Vidalia may spend $40,000 on vehicle for mayor, aldermen, town hall employees

Published 12:22 am Sunday, July 2, 2017


VIDALIA — Vidalia plans to purchase an approximately $40,000 vehicle for use by the mayor, aldermen and members of town hall.

The funding for the vehicle is part of the machinery and equipment capital budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year. The town is looking into purchasing a vehicle such as a Chevrolet Tahoe for use by officials conducting town business.

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During the budget process, Alderman Tommy Probst asked mayor Buz Craft why officials could not use the Toyota Sequoia the town already owns.

Craft said the Sequoia, which is a 2008 model, is not reliable. Craft said someone who had used the vehicle recently reported the Sequoia had more than 200,000 miles on it.

Before he took office in May of 2016, Craft said he purchased a new vehicle. Since that time, the vehicle has 35,000 miles on it. Craft said two-thirds of the miles were on town business.

Craft said he was open to aldermen denying the request, but that he would start charging for mileage, which he has not done to this point. The town offers more than 50 cents per mile in reimbursement for use of personal vehicles on town business.“If everyone turned in their mileage for what they do on town business, I think (payments toward a new vehicle) would be a wash,” Craft said. “I think we would break even.”

One of Craft’s biggest concerns is an official on a trip for example to Baton Rouge or Lafayette getting into an accident in their personal vehicle, which could potentially cause their personal insurance rates to go up.

“I don’t think that is fair,” Craft said. “As much as I travel, it would be a shame if someone ran over me and my insurance went up.”

If the accident happened in a town vehicle, it would potentially impact the town’s insurance.

Probst did not argue for taking the approximately $40,000 vehicle out of the budget, which was approved with four yes votes, including Probst.

“I didn’t know how many miles the Sequoia had on it,” Probst said. “That’s a lot.”

Craft said he did not know when the vehicle would be purchased. Craft said the town would come up with a priority plan for when to purchase various pieces of capital equipment.

“You can’t take the capital outlay and go spend it at one time, or the town would be in trouble,” Craft said. “We will have to create a schedule.”

The town’s total general fund budget for capital outlay machinery and equipment is  $321,700, with $192,000 of the total expenses coming from the street and IT departments.