Three Pittsburgh City Council members used city-owned cars for weeks at a time this winter before criticizing Mayor Tom Murphy for allowing officials and administrators to take home city vehicles, records show, according to an article in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.
Council members Jim Motznik and Twanda Carlisle kept city cars for weeks at a time -- and also sought mileage reimbursements for the months they used those vehicles. Council President Gene Ricciardi kept a city car for 20 days this winter, records show.The use of city-owned cars emerged as an issue last week during a council debate over Pittsburgh's financial crisis. Ricciardi criticized the mayor for permitting 85 employees to take home city vehicles even when they do not need them. Ricciardi maintains the city can generate "several hundred thousand dollars" by auctioning off nonessential vehicles. The city's policy for motor pool vehicles limits their use to no more than five consecutive days, and drivers are "encouraged" to put fuel in the vehicles at city-owned facilities. The policy does not specifically address the procedure for mileage reimbursements or driving-related expenses. Drawing reimbursements while using city cars is double-dipping on taxpayers, said Jim Broussard, founder of Citizens Against Higher Taxes, a statewide watchdog group. Council members are paid $50,000 a year.