With a steady rise in gas prices and measures already in place to cut costs in the unsteady economy, Dawson County Government suspended the use of employee take-home vehicles.
“We’ve determined that because the fuel cost has continued to rise and a decrease in revenue as a result of the economy that we’re going to suspend take-home car privileges for most of all general government employees,” said Dawson County Manager Kevin Tanner.
The suspension became active Monday, Oct. 6 and will continue through the end of the year.
“Economics dictates how we look at all costs,” said Mike Berg, chairman of the Dawson County Board of Commissioners. “The employees are looking at this with a team approach.”
There are a few exceptions to the rule for employees who must have their county-issued vehicle for public safety purposes.
“Those employees who need their county-issued cars to respond to emergencies, like our emergency services chiefs, will continue to drive their vehicles home each day,” said Tanner, who stopped driving his county-issued car home last week.
The suspension also will not affect the sheriff’s office and its ability to serve and protect, said Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle, who has seen an increase in crime in recent months.
“A staggering economy means our crime rate is going to go up. People are out of work. We’re answering more theft calls, stolen credit cards and checks,” Carlisle said.
Carlisle said he will not compromise the department’s level of service by parking patrol cars.
“I’m not willing to cut the level of service yet. We are not at that point, not as far as public safety goes. I’m going to find ways to save gas rather than lower my standards to provide and serve the citizens of this county,” Carlisle said.
Tanner said all departments in county government are looking for ways to cut back and save dollars.
“We’ve got to cut cost. Our citizens are hurting. They’re cutting back and they expect government to do the same, and that’s what we’re doing,” he said.
In the last few months, Dawson County has identified cuts that are expected to bring the county in close to $3 million below that budgeted for 2008.
The goal, Tanner said, is to bring the final budget in as close to the revenues received, while still providing the same level of service to the citizens.
“I don’t think anything that we’ve done will cut the level of service we’re providing,” Tanner said.
E-mail Michele Hester at email@example.com.