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 2012Name 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
N/A N/A N/A N/A
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 recordsName 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.