The Herald, Sharon, PA Published Thursday, December 18, 2003

'Abuses' turn up in audit

Workers drove agency cars home

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By Amanda Smith-Teutsch
Herald Staff Writer

Employees of Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission have driven taxpayer-bought vehicles to and from work and have logged almost 400 miles for a 200-mile trip, according to an audit.

The audit of the agency's travel fund, done by Mercer County Controller Thomas Amundsen, found that administrators of the nonprofit organization often took agency cars home overnight and there was no system for employees to pay for the use of those cars.

"It is an abuse of taxpayer money," Amundsen said. "The travel fund would be an insignificant amount of their total package, but you just don't use a car the taxpayers paid for and not reimburse it back."

Amundsen decided to investigate after James Campbell of Transfer attended a county commissioners questioning bid specifications for a new car for Behavioral Health.

The bid sought, among other things, a 2003 Pontiac Bonneville, with alloy wheels, a compact disc player, adjustable electric seats and mirrors and other luxuries.

"He wanted to know why this car was needed," Amundsen said. "None of us were able to answer him, so I said I'd look into it."

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