In a 4-1 vote on Monday morning, the Sunflower County Board of Supervisors took the first step to implement a travel log policy to assist in maintaining transparency and accountability with regard to the use of county-owned vehicles.
District 3 Supervisor Ben Gaston initiated the discussion and made the motion, which was seconded by District 5 Supervisor Gloria Dickerson.
Gaston prefaced his motion by stating that he "naively" thought the county was already using mileage logs in each vehicle.
He maintained that each of the three government agencies that he has worked for in the past had such logs to document the activity of those who operated government-issued vehicles.
Gaston said, "I think we need to move to something like that at the county level just for accountability and transparency. Because quite frankly you ask these folks what have you been doing, they can't tell you where they've been day-to-day in the use of that vehicle."
Gaston said he would like to see a mileage log in every truck so that the users of those vehicles can record their daily trips just like the supervisors do when they are seeking reimbursement.
District 1 Supervisor Glenn Donald voiced the only objection to Gaston's proposal. Donald's contention was that it was overkill since the operators of the trucks are already responsible for completing a work plan.
"If the county road manager gives them an assignment then they have to write down when they have completed the assignment," Donald said.
Gaston expressed that his proposal was not just for the road department, but it also covered the emergency management director, the E-911 director and anyone else that drove a government truck.
Donald then mentioned the required procedure of entering mileage when refueling the trucks and Gaston said that he was aware of that, but that doesn't provide information on the drivers' activities or where they've been, which would be the purpose of the mileage logs.
Mentioning the possible scenario that a driver would have to go through on a daily basis, Donald asked Gaston if that was what he intended. "It's not really that hard,when you get in the truck you write down where you're going, it's not a big deal," said Gaston.
Donald said, "I think that's overage, that's just me saying that, that's just Glenn Donald."
Gaston again stressed that his objective was about seeing some accountability. "All I'd like to see is some accountability where we have mileage logs, where you can look at the log and tell what the activity was for that vehicle. Now, if y'all are not interested in accountability, then I understand," Gaston said. He reasoned that it was not too much to ask and that it should be a part of the job just like any other paperwork.
President Riley Rice then suggested that Gaston get with the county administrator and draw up a mileage log. "Why Mr. Rice, because the board hasn't accepted it yet. Why you want to get them to draw something up that the board has not approved? asked Donald. Rice explained that his intent was to have them to draw up a log so the board could approve it. "You present it, you can't approve it because everybody else might not want that," Donald protested.
Rice then called for a motion to have Gaston and County Administrator Gloria McIntosh develop a mileage log to be submitted for board approval.
The vote was taken; however, unrelenting, Donald continued his protest of the proposed plan. When McIntosh asked Gaston a question to clarify the way the log was to be used, Donald said, "That's going to be convoluted because what direction a person went, to go to a place and what you think or what somebody think ought to been the mileage to do it is somewhat different."
Donald asked Gaston if keeping a log was a state mandate and Gaston asserted that to his knowledge, it was not.
Donald then asked if there were any other counties doing the same thing and Gaston said that he was not aware of that either. Donald asserted, "We just don't want to draft up something because you done worked with some agency on it and bringing it to the county."
Gaston then told Donald that if he did not want to be accountable that was fine with him.
"All it does is establish accountability for the use of the vehicle and that's something we need visibility on," Gaston said