ARICHAT: Richmond Municipal Council will stick to a May decision to allow individual councillors to access the Global Positioning System (GPS) units in vehicles provided by the municipality to its employees, rather than following a suggestion from their outgoing Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) regarding staff-prepared logs of municipal vehicle usage.
Former interim CAO Maris Freimanis has suggested that council consider implementing “a system of vehicle logs” to assess concerns raised at a previous council meeting. At that time, council voted 3-2 in favour of a motion put forward by councillor Gilbert Boucher that granted elected officials in Richmond County access to the GPS units installed in the vehicles of municipal employees.
Reading Freimanis’ suggestion at last week’s annual general meeting of Richmond Municipal Council, Warden Brian Marchand outlined the concept of vehicle logs that would be maintained by municipal staff members.
“These logs would require any employees using a vehicle to record position, any movements of the vehicle, with a reason and detailed data on the purpose and any incidents during the operation,” Freimanis wrote in his brief to councillors.
“The employee would be required to sign off on each entry. The advantage of this approach is that there would be a record of submission that will act as a basis for analysis assessing the nature and type of usage, planning staff assignments and vehicle needs. Any uses outside the documented log would be deemed inappropriate.”
However, the original council motion remained in place after Boucher made several comments regarding allegations of improper use of county-owned vehicles.
“In my view, there have been a lot of reports out there that our vehicles have been used for personal use, and that’s not right – those vehicles belong to the taxpayers in this county,” Boucher insisted.
“We’ve had the GPS’s put in our equipment for the last six years, we’ve had two reports from the Public Works Department that nobody could understand, and it’s being pushed by the wayside. The taxpayers of this county are paying a lot of money to have this information, and this information should be public.”
While Warden Marchand allowed the original motion to stand, describing the proposed vehicle log system as “a lot of extra work for the staff,” he cautioned Boucher that council must have evidence of improper use of municipal vehicles before any kind of formal complaint can be registered.
“The only question is proof of abuse,” Marchand warned. “I don’t have any of that, so we need to be careful.”