A photo sent into The Examiner by a concerned citizen brought up some questions for the administration of the Bridge City Independent School District. Why was a BCISD Silverado pickup truck with a boat trailer attached parked at the Willow Oaks boat ramp on Toledo Bend on March 14?
BCISD superintendent Mike King said his office received the same photo with a note reading, “Is this the way our tax money is spent?”
King has an explanation. The truck is used by BCISD director of maintenance and operations John Scales. King said Scales drives the truck while working but is also allowed to take the vehicle home. Any personal miles used are to be logged and Scales pays 55 cents per mile.
“He is on call 24-7,” King said of the employee. “And if he uses it personally – that was Spring Break that week – he documents miles and is charged accordingly and pays accordingly. It has been going on for two or three years. He is on call and is charged for personal miles.”
King provided mileage statements completed by Scales for 2013. Although lacking in detail, the statements show Scales claimed mileage for the Toledo Bend trip in the amount of 244 miles total for the excursion. He also turned in a $50 gas receipt for the trip that King said would offset the cost of total mileage due.
King does not see a problem with the practice of allowing Scales to take the truck home. BCISD is reimbursed and the employee is taxed accordingly, he said.
“I wish people would just pick up the phone and call me when they see something like this,” King said. “It’s almost like they are trying to stir something up that isn’t an issue. … In this case, he does pay for the use of this vehicle.”
While King said he hopes his answer will satisfy the anonymous citizen, the photo sends a message to those entrusted with tax dollars: “Beware! Taxpayers are watching.”
— Sharon Brooks