Mayor Thane: Take the car, pay me per-mile

A resolution from last year that would restrict Mayor Ann Thane’s use of the city provided vehicle was resurrected at last Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole meeting.

Alderwoman Diane Hatzenbuhler said the city’s employee handbook stated that at all city vehicles could only be used for city business. Her proposed resolution would limit the use of the mayor’s city-provided vehicle to city business only, require her to acquire gas from the city’s Department of Public Works, and keep the car housed at City Hall, rather than driving it to and from work.

Thane said that when she took office, the controller at the time, Heather Reynicke, told her that the car was a benefit and part of her compensation and that she could use the car for personal and business use. Thane says she reports the benefit on her personal taxes, and pays out of her own pocket for gas and maintenance on the car.

“This is, honest to goodness, the kookiest thing,” said Thane, “I cannot believe we spend so much time on this Diane, you have a personal issue here…it is the dog’s tail steering the dog, that’s what this is. This is foolishness, we have real work to do, Diane.”

Thane then suggested that she give up the car and take a standard per-mile reimbursement for business related travel. “I would much prefer that,” said Thane.

Alderwoman Valerie Beekman agreed. “I’m sick of talking about this foolishness,” she said, “So we take the car from her and we pay her [the standard mileage rate] per mile. That’s the end of this, we’re done.”

Controller Matthew Agresta pointed out that there was no budget line for reimbursing the mayor for mileage.

Both Alderman Richard Leggiero and Alderman Ron Barone expressed concern over potential liability issues if claims by Hatzenbuhler that Thane was allowing non-city employees to ride in the car were true. Hatzenbuhler said she personally saw the mayor’s husband in the car at one time. Thane denied the claim.

Alderman Ed Russo called for the resolution to be discussed once more in committee before putting it up for a vote next week.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.