MODESTO -- The Housing Authority of the County of Stanislaus will limit the number of managers who are assigned take-home vehicles.
The Board of Commissioners approved Executive Director Bill Fagan's proposal at its Thursday meeting to reduce the number of managers with take-home vehicles from eight to five. The five will be the authority's four property managers and their supervisor.
The board also heard from two employees and a union representative who voiced concerns about rising health insurance costs, the need for an updated salary survey as part of upcoming contract negotiations and employees' desire to be able to speak directly with commissioners without having to go through Fagan first.
Fagan and the deputy directors of finance and the housing choice program no longer will have take-home vehicles. Fagan said he expects the new policy to take effect in 30 days. Fagan and the two deputy directors are driving 2011 Priuses that cost the authority $25,210 each.
The change comes after The Bee reported in April that the Housing Authority assigned take-home vehicles to the eight managers under the rationale that they are on call to respond to after-hour emergencies. But The Bee found that only three of the property managers had to use their take-home vehicles in about a dozen after-hours calls during 2011. The five other managers did not respond to any calls, though some of the vehicle records were incomplete or missing.
Commissioner Dirk Hoek asked why the policy change could not have come sooner and before it was reported in the newspaper. He added that he asked for information about the take-home vehicles in May and in July.
Fagan said the change was made after the Housing Authority reviewed two recent months of records, which he said showed property managers handled 67 after-hours calls. In 15 of them, managers had to drive to a Housing Authority complex to resolve the problem.
About 18 Housing Authority clerical and maintenance workers attended the meeting to support those who spoke on their behalf.
Nancy Vinson of the American Federation of State, County & Municipal Workers, which represents 54 Housing Authority employees, requested that commissioners use a $4,000-a-month surplus to help employees with their health insurance costs.
The surplus, she said, is the difference between what the Housing Authority is budgeting for health insurance and what it spends.
Vinson also asked that Fagan have more flexibility regarding cost-of-living adjustments during upcoming negotiations. She said the 2.5 percent COLA employees have been receiving has not been enough to offset rising health insurance costs.
Vinson and the two employees spoke about issues not on the meeting agenda, so commissioners only could listen, not take any action.