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FORT EDWARD -- Despite a funding cut for take-home vehicles in the 2010 Washington County budget, some employees still bring county-owned cars home for the night.

It was with that in mind that supervisors on the Finance and Personnel Committee on Thursday approved a draft policy of tight controls over when and which employees can bring county-owned vehicles home.

"Time is ticking because these aren't in the budget," said Kingsbury Supervisor Jim Lindsay.

The policy would have to be approved by the full 17-member board at the next meeting on Jan. 15.

If approved, take-home vehicles would essentially be allowed only for some law enforcement and emergency responders. If an employee needed to take a vehicle home for the night, the head of the affected department would have to come before the finance panel and justify the expense.

"The committee would have oversight of what's going home," said County Attorney Roger Wickes, who wrote the draft policy. "The department head would know what procedures are to follow before a car goes home."

The proposal also outlines exceptions for when employees can use county cars to commute to and from work:

u The employee is called out at least 48 times a year for the primary purpose of responding to emergencies.

u The employee has no alternative forms of transportation to respond to emergencies.

u The employee picking up a county car at a designated area would hinder the ability of responding to an emergency.

"The criteria is laid out in here so you can make your decision," Wickes told supervisors on the committee. "The point of fact is that it defines the issues and says these are the criteria that we're going to use. It can be as cumbersome or not because you folks have to work with it."

Supervisors on the committee said that at one point, 17 vehicles were used by county employees to commute. Sheriff Roger Leclaire, Public Safety Director Bill Cook and the Department of Weights and Measures have since given up the take-home cars.

The county has spent the last year trying to get a handle on its fleet of cars, both those that are taken home by employees and those signed out for use during the workday.

The effort resulted in the county cutting $70,000 from the 2010 budget, which was approved in December.

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