Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fitzgerald Pays $42,737 for Use of County Vehicle

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fitzgerald Pays $42,737 for Use of County Vehicle

Article excerpt

Usually when people sink $40,000 into a car, they get to keep it.

But on Wednesday, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald announced that he wrote a check for more than $42,000 for every mile he's driven on his county-issued vehicle since 2012, and he's given it up.

The decision comes nearly a week after Controller Chelsa Wagner accused him of using the 2007 Jeep Grand Cherokee for political and personal use and costing taxpayers thousands of dollars, a move the executive called "political." Mr. Fitzgerald said the vehicle will be returned to the public works department fleet, and as of last weekend, he started using his personal vehicle for all travel and will incur any related costs.

"I am pleased that the Executive agrees with our audit findings, that government resources can never be used for political activities," Ms. Wagner in a statement. "I am also encouraged that he has expressed his intention to more closely examine the use of County-owned vehicles and I am certain that the conclusions reached in our audit will mean more efficient use of taxpayer dollars."

Mr. Fitzgerald said he paid the county treasurer $42,737.52 after multiplying the miles logged on the odometer since he took office Jan. 3, 2012 - 76,317 - by the current federal IRS reimbursement rate of 56 cents per mile.

Ms. Wagner said the controller's office had begun a review of all take-home vehicles in the county in August and will issue the results of an audit soon. Last week, she criticized Mr. Fitzgerald's county vehicle use and asked him to reimburse for 19,000 miles she said hadn't been accounted for properly and provide her office with detailed vehicle use within one week.

Mr. Fitzgerald said his staff and other county employees began to gather the requested information but stopped the effort when it became "a logistical nightmare" that could have taken months. …

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