Under a recent state ruling, city cars must be returned to 19 municipal employees in Stamford, Conn., ending a long-running battle over whether the cars are necessary or a lavish perk. The city agreed to pay $200,000 to cover attorneys' fees and mileage racked up by municipal employees for the years they didn't have the cars, according to The Advocate (Stamford). This is the second time the city has revoked take-home privileges, then been forced to return them when the labor board has ruled in favor of unions. Union members include city employees who "spend a significant amount of their work day in the field" and need to be "on call" for emergencies, necessitating the take-home privilege. Prompting the first case in 2003, a review of city records showed some employees logging more than 90 percent of their miles commuting to and from work, or living so far they couldn't respond to emergencies in Stamford. Republican Board of Finance member Joseph Tarzia called take-home car privileges a waste of taxpayers' money, citing public outcry over suspected abuse, rising gas prices and the increasing age of the city’s fleet of cars. In March, the state labor board ruled the privilege had to be returned because the city revoked it without negotiating with the unions. According to a copy of the ruling obtained by The Advocate, the decision requires the city to repay employees for the costs of gas, mileage, repairs accrued while using their personal cars.
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