Car use policy adopted by Princess Anne commissioners on 3-2 vote

PRINCESS ANNE — On a 3-2 vote Princess Anne Commissioners approved a policy that allows them to use a town car when on official public business.

They are to provide the gasoline, the policy states, while the town will insure and maintain the vehicle which is to be kept at Town Hall. It will include a log book to record mileage and purpose of the use.

If a commissioner is in an accident or if the car is damaged, that is to be reported and filed with the town’s insurance carrier, the policy states.

The public, like the commissioners were split on the issue. Commissioner Joey Gardner again expressed his opposition, saying mileage reimbursement would be less expensive and the unused vehicle could be sold and taken off the insurance plan.

Commissioner Orlondo Taylor, like Mr. Gardner, voted against the policy with Mr. Taylor saying with COVID-19 it will add another level of concern, that is, ensuring the vehicle is sanitized after each use. He also asked there be some sort of checkoff before the car goes out and inspection when it returns.

Somerset Avenue resident Eugene “Skip” Colburn Jr. spoke up that he was not opposed to the commissioners having access to a vehicle, but with so many activities canceled or being online only tabling the policy and waiting until January will give time to see how urgent a need it is.

Dale Parker, a Church Street resident, said it was a good idea and the car would be more of a backup.

Town employee Nelson Sheppard, who is a Crisfield City Council member, asked about accountability and responsibility for the car. Commissioner Marshall Corbin said the person using it will not only inspect it beforehand but “speak up” if there is damage afterward, similar to a rental car.

“It’s nothing out of the ordinary,” President Lionel Frederick said, and it won’t be a take home vehicle, admitting that the town should not have purchased the two cars it did two years ago.

“It’s just a backup car,” he said. “I don’t need to use one on a daily basis but in turn if there is an emergency for the commissioners to have access to” it’s available.

While willing to consider postponing the vote during the discussion until after New Year’s, “we just want to implement the policy” in case there was an emergency, Mr. Frederick said, and when the question was called he along with Mr. Corbin and Vice President Garland Hayward voted for it.

The president also wanted to discuss vehicle use and the take-home policy as it relates to the police department, but Mr. Gardner said that was not the issue on the Sept. 8 agenda, and the policy being voted on was “for the commissioners” and no others.

Former Commissioner Mike Hall, who opposes the policy, said he thinks now that they’ve reauthorized the cell phone stipend and vehicle policy “maybe the next meeting there’s something else” they might want, warning them the day will come there won’t be any money.

Mr. Frederick said he didn’t think the policy would cost the taxpayers any additional money because “it’s only once or twice maybe a year if needed,” he said.

“If we really wanted to save taxpayer dollars,” he said, “prohibiting the police department from taking home vehicles will save us over $100,000 per year.” That discussion is anticipated at a future work session.