Baby You Can Drive My (County) Car

If you can get elected to the Baltimore County Council, a county car can be yours for less than $2 per day.

One of the perks of being elected to the Baltimore County Council is the use of a county-owned vehicle.

But the costs charged to members who opt to use such cars may not be what you expect.

Last year, five councilmembers—Vicki Almond, Cathy Bevins, Todd Huff, Ken Oliver and John Olszewski Sr.—opted in and, based on a formula used to determine personal mileage on the vehicle, paid less than $2 per day for the privilege, according to information released in response to a Maryland Public Information Act request filed by Patch.

Maintenance, insurance and gas usage are all included.

At roughly $60 per month, the charge is much less than what many would expect to pay for a private vehicle.

County Car Personal Mileage Reimbursement Fiscal Year 2012

Name Miles charged in FY 2012 Cost/year Per Month Per Week Vicki Almond 1486.4 $720.92 $60.08 $13.86 Cathy Bevins 1108.3 $537.52 $44.79 $10.34 Todd Huff 1493.9 $724.53 $60.38 $13.93 David Marks N/A N/A N/A N/A Ken Oliver 1299.1 $630.04 $52.50 $12.11 John Olszewski Sr. 1412.3 $684.96 $57.08 $13.17 Tom Quirk

Two members—Tom Quirk and David Marks—did not opt in for the perk in in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30 2012.

Marks in a recent interview said he began using a county car in the last three months. In fiscal year 2012, Marks sought reimbursement for work-related miles on his personal car and was paid $3,646.44 for the year.

Quirk is the only councilmember who does not use a county-owned vehicle. He also does not seek reimbursement from the county for work-related miles on his personal car, according to documents released to Patch.

The county charges the council members for 10 percent of the monthly mileage on the county vehicles assigned to them based on a formula that has been used for roughly 15 years.

The exact origin of the formula is unclear. It does not appear to be based on any internal studies. The county, in reponse to the request filed by Patch, stated that no county reports exist on the costs of the use of a personal vehicle versus a county-owned vehicles.

Councilmembers report their odometer readings to the county and a deduction equal to 10 percent of the mileage is taken from each of their paychecks. The county charges the councilmembers a rate of 48.5 cents per mile, according to the document released.

Use of county-owned vehicles by councilmembers has come under greater scrutiny since the Feb. 23 arrest of Councilman Todd Huff. The Lutherville Republican was charged with drunken driving after reportedly registering a blood alcohol level of .20—more than twice the legal limit.

Huff has voluntarily relinquished his county-owned 2010 Jeep Grand Cherokee. Council rules do not require the vehicle to be turned in under such circumstances.

The flat rate for personal mileage is not based on vehicle type. Three of the five councilmembers who drove county-owned vehicles last year drove sport utility vehicles. Others drive sedans or mid-sized cars, according to county records

Name Model Year Vicki Almond Chevrolet Impala 2006 Cathy Bevins Ford Fusion 2007 Todd Huff* Jeep Grand Cherokee 2010 David Marks Chevrolet Impala 2009 Ken Oliver Chevrolet Trailblazer 2008 John Olszewski Sr. Jeep Grand Cherokee 2007 Tom Quirk N/A N/A


* Huff returned his vehicle after a Feb. 23 arrest.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

MD Fan March 09, 2013 at 11:49 AM
The real story here isn't about a politician changing his/her position on a 'perk' of the job - when should we ever be surprised with hypocrisy in 'leadership.' The story I am most impressed about is Tom Quirk. He lives probably the farthest from Towson, but as sought neither the car nor reimbursement. Further, he's not out there pounding his chest saying 'see what I have done' and drawing attention to his popular decision. Keep it up Mr. Quirk, I wish I could vote for you. The other thing that slays me about these facts is the tone deafness when it comes to choice of car. Gas is up approaching 4 dollars a gallon, and Huff (was), Oliver and Olzsewski are driving SUVs. Are they really out there driving off road or in deep snow? Pathetic entitlement culture on the council.
Frank The Breadman March 09, 2013 at 03:08 PM
There is no real story, Lalain. The real story was Todd Huff's arrest two weeks ago, which should have been a 2 paragraph article at best, but was sensationalized to the hilt by Bryan Sears because that is what he likes to do. We are now up to what . . the 10th article stemming from this barely newsworthy incident? Mr. Huff's mistake sure has been a windfall for Bryan Sears.
Bob Hurley March 09, 2013 at 03:16 PM
Sears in his usual partisan slant left out the fact that Marks took a County car most of 2012 which is measured in FY2013. This was after he lied to the voters and said he would not. Only Quirk has never used a County car. Marks also paid the $2 per day average and he took $120,000 in developer contribution after he said he would not.
backlash March 12, 2013 at 05:03 PM
Maybe they should install Blow-n-Go's in them. If they are under the influence they won't start. Our Gov't. wants to monitor us every way they can (red light and speed cameras, the list goes on) why can't we the people monitor our Gov't?
backlash March 12, 2013 at 05:04 PM
Hey we can even name it after Todd Huff. The Huff-n-Puff............LOL


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »