The rising price of
gas hits county government
OK...I’m going to say it before Bev does.
This week, Fort Bend County Commissioners are expected to
declare an emergency and spend an additional $320,000 for
gas and oil, tires and tubes.
That is $300,000 more than was originally
budgeted for the year and obviously it is due to the surge
in gas prices. Now that is a large chunk of change and you
can bet those who think the county should do away with take
home cars will argue that it is time to crack down on this
“perk” once and for all.
One county official, who advocates
parking the take home cars at the issuing department and
putting an end to what is now considered part of the
benefits package, says it is doubtful that will ever happen.
The take homes have become, for some reason, a sacred cow.
I’ve always kind of supported take home
cars because statistically it has been shown that a person
who has a take home does maintain the vehicle at a higher
level than someone who just drives during working hours and
leaves the candy wrapper riddled vehicle for the next poor
sucker who inherits it at shifts end. I’ve also felt that
law enforcement officers do provide additional services to
the citizens if they are driving along and see a crime in
progress while tooling to their home in that county issued
That was before gas prices made it cost
prohibitive to make a trip to the grocery store! Now I’m
thinking it may just be time to take a long hard look at who
gets a take home car. I still think a detective should have
a take home because it reduces the response time to a major
crime scene and that is of benefit to a victim. However,
does a person working in the jail need a county-issued
vehicle to get to and from a job where they are locked
behind bars all day—NOT!
It is indeed time to look at the
tradition of letting virtually anyone who is anyone in
county government drive wherever, on or off duty, at
taxpayers expense. One official believes in lieu of a
crackdown on the use of take home cars, the county might
want to invest in those neat little computerized tracking
devices that show exactly where a given car is at a given
time. While most officials will argue that the devices are
not the least bit cheap and would be too costly to purchase,
some feel the devices might pay for themselves when
employees and administrators realize their travel locations
are monitored and public information.
This has absolutely nothing to do with
county government, the threat of hurricanes, a potential
bird flu epidemic, the West Nile virus, rabies, politicians
or mosquitoes or anything else that threatens the well being
of our readers. (Notice I included politicians in the same
category as rabies?)
I just wanted to acknowledge that Tuesday
(6-6-06—scary, right?) my spouse, Steve, and I celebrated
our 42nd wedding anniversary. That is quite a milestone.
I had a wonderful aunt who gave me the
best advise on marriage I have ever heard. She said marriage
was indeed 50-50. However at times “you will give 99 percent
and he will give one percent and then the situation reverses
and you will take 99 percent while you give only one
percent. It is the average that comes out to 50-50.” Boy was
I want to say thank you to Steve for
giving 99 percent on my bad days and tolerating me all these
years. On the other hand, I expect him to bow to my knees
and say thank you for the times I gave the 99 percent. It
has averaged out, I am sure, although keeping score kind of
takes away from the overall adventure, so I never kept an
We have weathered the storms and enjoyed
the triumphs only a long marriage can bring. I have loved
him, hated him, tolerated him, ignored him and the cycle has
repeated a thousand times over.
The end result, thus far, is that we have
three fantastic kids, three really neat grandkids and a
lifetime of being together through the 99 percent and the
one percent times. Luckily neither of us kept score!
By the way, I am making every attempt to
convince my friends and associates that our marriage was
arranged and I was only two years of age when I tied the
knot. So far, that hasn’t been too believable, but that’s my
story and I’m sticking to it!
Anyhow, Happy Anniversary Steve—thanks for the memories.