The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

March 24, 2014

Authority sets policies for vehicle use

JOHNSTOWN — On the same day a Cambria County judge ruled against former Johnstown Housing Authority Chairman Brian Vuletich’s appeal of his removal from the board, the authority addressed one of Vuletich’s main gripes.

A policy revision outlining responsibility for use of authority-owned vehicles was approved unanimously during Monday’s meeting.

Three employees – the maintenance superintendent, maintenance supervisor and inspection supervisor – are allowed to drive vehicles back and forth to work, for authority-related emergencies and other authority business, authority Chairwoman Jean Tanaka said.

The policy also defines responsibility for damage and accidents, requiring drug and alcohol testing for anyone involved in an accident.

Tanaka said the policy revision grew out of discussions at a meeting with federal Housing and Urban Development officials in May.

“HUD clarified that for us,” she said. “It is really an operations issue.”

One important aspect notes the use of a vehicle is treated as an employee benefit under IRS regulations, Solicitor Timothy Leventry noted.

Authority member Michael Vuckovich asked if drug testing should be required prior to an employee being authorized to use a vehicle. Executive Director Daniel J. Kanuch said all employees undergo drug testing when they are hired.

“I think that covers that issue,” Tanaka said. Vuckovich agreed.

Although she did not mention Vuletich by name, Tanaka recalled that vehicle use was discussed repeatedly last year.

“I think we can put that issue to bed once and for all,” Tanaka said.

Reached by phone later Monday, Vuletich said the new policy does not address two of his major concerns: vehicles issued to Kanuch and another manager, and the three supervisors’ daily use of vehicles. Vuletich questioned whether all three supervisors need daily use of cars.

“Not everybody can be on call,” he said. “Why so many?”

The manager commutes about 45 miles each way from Kittanning, but Kanuch has explained that the vehicle was part of the employment package when the manager was hired. Kanuch has had a car to use since 1999, when it was offered in lieu of a raise.

“There are five cars being taken home every night at taxpayers’ expense,” Vuletich said. “When are these benefits going to stop? Everybody else is making cutbacks.”

Randy Griffith covers health care for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/photogriffer57.

 

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