City Liability

The Arizona Republic did a roundup of the city of Phoenix’s motor-vehicle  liability claims paid over the about the past 5 years, 2005 – most of 2009. It was about $15M

Phoenix pays millions… March 6, 2010.

On one hand it seems like a rather moderate amount. And not all of these claims has to do with what would normally be viewed as a traffic crash (like e.g. the bus-door-closing ones). Yet still it illuminates just another unpaid (“external“) cost of our car-culture.

Cities, townships, counties, states, and the federal government all run enormous fleets of motor vehicles, running in the many millions of vehicles. Liability expenses being just one of the smaller costs; fuel, capital cost, maintenance and so forth all add up to more.

The vast majority of these expenses are not paid via any sort of use fees (e.g. gasoline tax) on automobiles — but rather from general fund sources; property taxes, general sales taxes, income taxes, and so forth. And my favorite, the new grocery tax; yes we have to pay city sales taxes on groceries, in part to bankroll Phoenix’s vehicle fleet. I’m thinking government entities don’t even pay the so-called “road taxes” on fuel, nor do they pay other use taxes, like Arizona’s VLT (Vehicle License Tax). More on Road Taxes in Arizona.

Car Allowances

Beyond the obvious, direct, costs of operating vehicles; cities also like to extend “car allowances” to a variety of city employees.

Amid budget cuts, Valley cities continue to keep vehicle perks Feb 24, 2010. “The employees are not required to prove they use their personal vehicles for government business, and some employees rarely leave the office during the workday, basically using the allowance to pay their way to and from work”. “Phoenix’s vehicle allowances accounting for $1.37 million”. And many/most cities also have similar allowances.

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