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Are county employees who are issued cars for work allowed to operate them for personal use?

Ken Little

New Hanover County owns vehicles to support law enforcement, fire services, inspections, engineering, erosion, tax appraisal, property management, vector control, social work, restaurant inspection “and the list goes on,” says County Manager Bruce Shell.

Vehicles are not allowed for personal use, but there are some exceptions.

For example, Shell says, sheriff’s deputies who take their cars home could make stops for personal business on the way. Firefighters may eat lunch in between calls.

“Citizens sometimes call, saying they saw a deputy in the grocery store with the car in the lot. Recently, we got a call that an employee was using a county truck for personal use,” Shell says. “The neighbors were feuding and trying to get the other in trouble. We found out later that it was a city truck that was sold at auction that the individual was using appropriately.”

Citizens are usually the ones to report suspected abuse of government property, Shell says.

“The report typically comes to this office or the elected officials who turn to me. Educated citizens may call the department head, but that is the exception.”

The county manager’s office telephone number is (910) 798-7184.

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