What were they thinking?
Did Zap, Ambro thumb noses at PA Code with
Fay vehicle for Zap's personal use?
While it is clear that Fayette County Commissioner Vince Zapotosky took personal possession of a county-owned vehicle home for some
time in 2014 and used the vehicle to transport family members for personal use, as shown in these photographs, it is unknown
whether he or other county officials or operational staff followed proper procedure for Zapotosky even to have had the vehicle for non-county
business in the first place.
As per PA Code section, § 4300.67, Motor vehicles:
reimburses the program for the use of the vehicle.
(5) A daily log detailing the use of vehicles, as well as maintenance or service activities, shall be maintained.
In Bedford County in 2012, a former county commissioners repaid nearly $4,000 to the county after breaching state policy that forbids officials
to claim mileage reimbursements for personal vehicles traveling within the county. Audits there showed that a second commissioner also
owes Bedford County over $1,700, also for forbidden reimbursements for inner county personal travel in a county-owned vehicle.
Some years back in Fayette, it became known that one non-profit director ran into IRS problems, after the director and the director's family
used an agency vehicle as a personally owned car. The director benefited significantly from having 24/7 access to a free car, free car
insurance, free car maintenance, free tires and free fuel.
The IRS forced the director to pay federal, state and local income taxes on a part of the mileage racked up on non-agency related travel. The
IRS declared that the savings that the director realized, from having free travel and travel expenses for personal use of the vehicle, was
undeclared income and undeclared income that needed to be taxed.
In more recent years, another long-time non-profit administrator was terminated by the agency's board after a vehicle, purchased with public
funds, was used to transport a family member's belongings when relocating. Though different rules pertain to elected officials versus staff, the
County Commissioners' Association of PA (CCAP) tells counties not to allow personal use of a public-funded vehicle whatsoever.
Not that Zapotosky was cruising around town in a luxury car, mind you, but what was then Fayette County Commission Chairman Al
Ambrosini -- or whoever gave Zapotosky the keys -- thinking when Zapotosky was authorized to take the car home and drive around in it with
What was the liability of the county if he and his family members in the car were hurt or involved in a wreck, whether it were his fault or not?
The liability was staggering, even if a prior repayment plan were in place to satisfy the PA Code.
A Right To Know request was sent yesterday to obtain the vehicle's travel and fueling information log from that vehicle. Four of four county
staff surveyed yesterday stated unanimously that vehicle travel information logs are still kept in county vehicles when they drive them and
A request was also made to learn who exactly authorized Zapotosky to use the vehicle for personal travel with family members being
transported. As per PA Code quoted above, these vehicle logs are required not just of staff, but of anyone using the public-funded vehicles
for any reason.
Was there a prepared written repayment agreement, as PA Code quoted above says needed to be completed, prior to Zapotosky
using the car for his personal use? Even if there had been a required prior repayment agreement in place and he were at no fault in an
accident, can Fayette really afford the liability of any county representative, elected official or not, driving around with a family member along
for the ride?
Readers here know that Zapotosky publicly sent chills down us when he said in recent months that the brakes in a county car he used were
worn and that the brake pedal went to the floor for him.
Did Zapotosky have an extensive amount of pre-scheduled, legitimate county business over a few weeks to justify having possession of a
county-owned vehicle? While only a 5-day span was documented with photographs sent here, sources believe he may have had possession
of the car for 2-3 weeks.
Zapotosky was asked yesterday for comment. (14 Aug 15)
Editor's Note: No comment has been received from Zapotosky on the matter.
public-funded agency/department vehicle info logs
After a few readers heard that Fayette County generously loaned out a county vehicle to an elected official to take home and use for personal
travel, a few vehicle information log samples were sent here.
In a survey done here, using this site's mailing list from A-K, about 341 of those registered to known government email addresses, received a
quick questionnaire. Mondays being Mondays, 273 respondents said they use public-funded vehicles once in a blue moon to frequently at
work. Never using a work car were 19 more respondents. The rest of those polled likely called off work -- you know, Mondays being Mondays
-- and did not respond.
Nonetheless, this site received copies of some actual logs from a fairly wide scatter of places. Some were very basic, simple to complete.
Imagine columns across a page: date, purpose of trip, odometer reading before and after travel, indication of fluids added to the vehicle,
names of passengers, if applicable and name of staff driving, etc.
Other forms received as samples seemed to become more technical if one vehicle was exclusively assigned to one or two staff. Those forms
in a few cases, were 2-pages, breaking down daily versus weekly expectations of the driver(s) to document or confirm that tires and fluids
were checked. Some of the specific vehicle information logs received came redacted with government office names redacted. From
Connecticut to Harrisburg to Tampa and Michigan, Morgantown, Colorado, Ohio and Pittsburgh, this site received confirmation that vehicle
information logs are widely used because they're required to be used.
Prior to receiving the RTK information, four local county employees, who use a county vehicle often for work, confirmed that vehicle
information logs are kept in a vehicle, signed and completed for each trip the vehicle makes. Mileage is kept, destinations tracked and
notations made to say whether gas or oil were purchased, and how many gallons, etc.
That said, the RTK answer that arrived today provided this vehicle information log for the car used by the county
commissioner for his personal travels.
Some readers, meanwhile, thought this was a joke when they received it for comment and reaction. They thought it was a joke that the chief
clerk was unaware of a fuel log being required to be kept -- especially when some enlarged the calendar and read the note on May 28 that
the commissioner lost the car keys.
Sorry, but it's all too true.
24 Aug 15
Fayette County COMMENTARY
extended commentary from daily Rants&Raves