N.H. liquor officials lose use of state cars after off-hour driving

Posted Dec. 24, 2011, at 6:50 a.m.

CONCORD, N.H. — The three state liquor commissioners are no longer behind the wheels of state vehicles after racking up too many miles between their homes and the Concord office.

A recently released report showed 233 of the state’s 1,884 vehicles were used for non-state business more than 15 percent of the time — including Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica’s 2010 Chevrolet Impala, Commissioner Mark Bodi’s 2006 Impala and Commissioner Michael Milligan’s 2008 Ford Fusion.

A committee overseeing state vehicle utilization reassigned a total of 14 vehicles to the state’s auto pool — four from the Liquor Commission. The review was part of Senate Bill 402, designed to trim costs and standardize state vehicle use.

“We now have the information on the vehicles we did not have before and that provides more transparency. And now we know where the issues are,” said Senate President Peter Bragdon, R-Milford, the 2010 bill’s prime sponsor.

On a less positive note, he said, the bill has not reduced the size of the state fleet, but he added the report gives a good foundation for more efficient fleet management.

According to information from the Department of Administrative Services presented to the Joint Legislative Fiscal Committee, non-business use of state vehicles totaled some 1.5 million miles for fiscal year 2011.

Mollica drove 13,836 miles during the last fiscal year, with 8,799 for non-state business use. In a waiver request to Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgden in August, Mollica stated the non-business mileage was 5,520 miles.

Bodi used his state vehicle for non-business use about 75 percent of the time, mostly commuting between his home and Concord, according to the DAS.

Bodi drove 17,099 miles last fiscal year, 12,793 miles for non-business use.

In his waiver request, Bodi says he drove 8,710 non-business miles.

Milligan, the newest commissioner, drove 18,329 miles, 8,413 for personal use. In his waiver request, Milligan claims he drove 5,920 miles for non-business use.

The three commissioners filed the same statement in their waiver request: “This vehicle is used for commission business from the Commission’s offices in Concord and frequently from a home office. On a regular basis, Commissioner Mollica (Bodi, Milligan) travels directly from his home to visit our 76 retail store locations. It is not unusual for him to spend the entire business day traveling from store to store. Commissioner Milligan also attends meetings throughout the state with business partners and other state officials. In addition, Commissioner Milligan attends special events held at our retail stores and other venues during evenings and weekends.”

A message left with the commission seeking comment was not returned.

The five-member Vehicle Utilization Committee, with representatives from several state agencies, voted 4-1 to reassign the vehicles to the state car pool.

Bragdon said he was not targeting any particular agency when he wrote the bill, but believed the overall number of state vehicles was too high.

He said more discussions are needed about the Department of Transportation’s state vehicle use.

He noted although many DOT vehicles exceeded the 15 percent threshold, few were reassigned to the state car pool.

Any state vehicle that exceeds 15 percent non-business use may be reassigned by the DAS’ Director of Plant and Property Management unless the agency submits and receives a waiver from the committee.

There are several bills that will be introduced in the 2012 session dealing with the state vehicle fleet, but Bragdon said “I want to let the system run a little bit and then see as we go along.”

A review of the non-business use of state vehicles has been a week-long series done by Grant Bosse of the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy.

(c)2011 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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