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County driving toward vehicle policy
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Effingham County commissioners are expected to decide soon who has county vehicles and where they can be driven.

Commissioners were given a draft of a county vehicle policy after some commissioners questioned the use of vehicles. Currently, the county doesn’t have a separate vehicle policy.

“I’m seeing a lot of vehicles outside the county,” said Commissioner Hubert Sapp. “They use ’em like personal vehicles and not just Savannah, but Hinesville, Statesboro and Sylvania. I’ve had lots of complaints about county vehicles being out of the county.

“I feel we need to have this in place to control it a little bit,” Sapp said.

County administrative assistant Adam Kobek said the draft policy was based on state vehicle use guidelines and policies of several counties. The draft was presented to county department heads last month for their review and comments.

Currently, county vehicles are either in motor pools, permanently assigned to personnel or are to be signed out.

Permanently assigned vehicles include those driven by the sheriff and the county administrator. Those must be approved by the commissioners.

Kobek said the draft policy considers allowing personnel who either are on call or are first responders to take a county car home at night.

“All first responders would have a car available to them at all times,” he said.

A list of first responders would be provided to the commissioners so they would know who had access to county vehicles. Even that was met with some skepticism by commissioners.

“I’m not sure how accepting I am of this policy right now,” Commissioner Myra Lewis said.

Assistant County Administrator David Crawley said Camden County does not allow its vehicles to be taken home outside the county. Fulton County employees, if they have a county car and live outside the county, reimburse the county.

Sapp suggested charging county personnel who drive a county car to and from home 15 cents a mile, per Fulton’s rules.

Kobek said county employees who need vehicles on county business, such as first responders, could leave the county vehicle at the county line and drive their personal vehicle from that point or charge the county mileage for taking their personal car into the county.

He also said Sheriff Jimmy McDuffie intends to follow the vehicle use policy his department has in place.

Arthur Rud said he saw an Effingham sheriff’s department car pull up to a hardware store and a woman and kids exit.

“This has been a real sore spot with me for a long time,” he said.

Finance director Joanna Floyd reminded commissioners of what McDuffie told them during budget hearings — if they see a potential misuse of a sheriff’s vehicle to let him know right away.

“He can’t do anything unless you give him the tools to do it,” she said.

County employees also had to deal with a computer malfunction this week that shut down their e-mail for two days.

The problem was blamed on a disk failure.