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Taxpayers Foot Bill for $6M in Leased, Rented Vehicles

August 26, 2018

By Joe Dwinell

Boston Herald

Leasing and renting vehicles for state workers cost taxpayers nearly $6 million this past fiscal year so everyone from UMass chancellors to gaming inspectors could get around, a Herald analysis shows.

The state Executive Office of Education topped the list of departments who rented or leased vehicles -- with the University of Massachusetts’ system spending a lion’s share of the total $4.55 million, state comptroller records show.

In all, there are 2,348 “active vehicles” across 36 agencies available to state employees, according to the Executive Office of Administration and Finance. Those rentals and leases fall under the Office of Vehicle Management.

That tally does not include state police cruisers, MassDOT vehicles or sheriffs cars.

State Comptroller Thomas Shack, who uses a state-owned 2017 Ford Explorer, said the overall cost of leasing cars is probably higher due to antiquated record keeping he’s out to modernize.

“We owe it to the people of Massachusetts to examine and re-examine the use of vehicles by state employees,” Shack said Friday, adding he’s earmarked $8 million to begin rolling out a new statewide accounting system.

The comptroller’s online database of expenditures for fiscal 2018 shows:

* $4.17 million spent by the University of Massachusetts system. Spokesman Colin Murphy said the “vast majority” of the cars are for police or facilities management. “There are a few exceptions,” he said, “as chiefs and deputy chiefs of police and chancellors may be eligible for mixed-use vehicles.”

* Administration and Finance put in for $82,127 in rentals from Enterprise Rent-A-Car. The cars were used “for business purposes,” a spokeswoman said.

* The Executive Office of Health and Human Services logged $74,889 in rentals and leases, with the Department of Public Health leading the way and the Department of Developmental Services coming in last, spending $227.

* The Secretary of State’s Office spent $44,855. A spokeswoman said a van is used for the archives division and a car for inspectors. She did not have further details.

* The Mass. Gaming Commission spent $2,807 on leases for three cars -- two Ford Fusions and a Ford Escape. One was set aside for the Boston office and the two others for a construction manager and a gaming agent. The cost, a spokeswoman added, is paid for out of fees paid by casino operators.

The use of leased or rented cars for state employees is in the spotlight after the Herald reported Friday the $174,700-a-year head of the Mass. Cultural Council has a Toyota Prius C III leased in her name -- at $404.63 a month -- along with a spot in a parking garage near her downtown office. Taxpayers pick up the tab for that bill too, at $340 a month.

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