Hollister officials say that a new policy is working well that calls for a police captain to pay 5 cents per mile for use of a city patrol car he uses on a daily commute with a round trip of around 100 miles.
Hollister City Council members, at the request of Councilman Robert Scattini, were scheduled to review the policy at their Monday meeting. Scattini is the lone councilman to oppose the modest mileage rate – the Internal Revenue Service rate for businesses is 55.5 cents – and he also is the one who initially requested the council examine the police department practice.
Council members resolved in a 4-1 vote on Feb. 21 to have Capt. Carlos Reynoso – who had been commuting with a patrol car since his promotion to the role in 2010 – pay 5 cents per mile for the daily trip, which is to and from a location that is about 50 miles, one way, to the police station. The policy calls for the commute payments for command staff members living more than 15 miles from the police headquarters. As of now, Reynoso is the only employee it affects.
They decided on that amount after Mayor Ray Friend noted that he receives the same figure to commute with a vehicle owned by his employer, Pacific Gas & Electric.
“I just suggested 5 cents because I know that’s kind of what I heard was pretty much the average of most companies when they’re doing just commute miles,” Friend said Monday.
He said he agrees with residents who wanted some level of compensation to the city for the commute costs. He said he is “not sure” if 5 cents is the right amount. Reynoso, who is considered on call and ready to respond whenever needed, will not have to pay the mileage at times the city requires him to physically be in Hollister when he is not scheduled to work.
“For strictly commute days when the person is just commuting to and from work, there should be some remediation for using that vehicle,” said Friend, who also underscored that the city agreed to the free commutes when Reynoso was promoted.
Former Police Chief Jeff Miller made the decision on free commute rides when he promoted Reynoso to one of two captain roles. David Westrick was the other captain and now will rotate with Reynoso – Westrick has the first try at it – in the interim chief position.
Westrick called it a “well-reasoned” policy to have Reynoso pay the 5 cents.
“What we’re doing and what we’ve done since the initial meeting, is we track the mileage on a spreadsheet,” Westrick said. “We provide that spreadsheet to city hall. Then that employee, of course, reimburses for the mileage and gas used for commuting.”
As for justifying the 5-cent amount, City Manager Clint Quilter said that is what the council decided. He said it is valuable to have Reynoso communicating on police equipment.
“There’s some real advantages for that person having that vehicle,” Quilter said. “When they’re coming into town, they need to know what’s going on for a situation.”