Yonkers council considers branding all city cars to deter abuse

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Yonkers would slap its Corporation Seal on all city cars that don’t already display it under a City Council plan to deter misuse of the vehicles.

“You want to make sure people are using (the cars) responsibly … for city business and not personal business,” said Council Minority Leader John Larkin.

His legislation would affect at least a dozen city vehicles that don’t already display the seal featuring George Washington’s profile. The council will vote on the proposal at an 8 p.m. meeting Tuesday at City Hall.

Under the ordinance, the seal would have to be “prominently displayed” on both the driver- and passenger-side front doors of all vehicles except unmarked cop cars, surveillance vehicles and other law enforcement cars.

The municipal code prohibits most employees from driving city vehicles outside of Yonkers or using them for anything other than city business. It also forbids city employees from bringing the cars home overnight, with exceptions for elected officials, commissioners or deputy commissioners.

Violations are considered a misdemeanor offense punishable by dismissal, a fine of up to $1,000 and imprisonment for up to six months.

In February, Mayor Mike Spano pledged to take 40 of the Yonkers fleet’s 93 take-home vehicles for city officials and employees off the road. His office estimated that the city will save at least $20,000 a year in gas and maintenance costs from taking the vehicles out of service.

“Let’s face it,” Spano said at the time, “if the car looks like a personal car, it will be treated like a personal car.”

The issue of take-home cars came into clearer focus back in April 2009 when former city Inspector General Philip Zisman issued audit revealing systemic failures in the monitoring of city gasoline. He also found that several municipal employees were using their take-home cars for more than just commuting. For example, one employee on seven occasions drove his vehicle between 73 and 96 miles beyond his normal commuting distance.

 

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  1. Addison Whitney on

    Again, branding has a way of getting itself into peoples consciousness. Whether it is consumers or employees- people will act differently when that seal is visible on the car.