State treasurer use of state car questioned

After hours policy not known until last week, Davis says
October 3, 2019

The state treasurer says she was unaware of policy relating to using state-owned cars after work hours, but she has now filled out the appropriate paperwork and will pay back the state for the use of the car.

“The gray area for us right now is that I had taken the vehicle back to my home after different meetings and things like that, particularly if they ran very late or there was an early morning start,” said State Treasurer Colleen C. Davis.

Davis said she owns a personal vehicle that she drives from her home in Sussex County to her office in Dover, but she does use the state's hybrid vehicle to attend meetings in Wilmington and elsewhere in the state. There are times, she said, that she would finish a meeting in Wilmington late at night, and she would drive straight to her home instead of stopping in Dover to get her personal vehicle.

Davis said the Office of Management and Budget inquired about her use of the state vehicle last week, making her aware for the first time that she needed to fill out paperwork if she used a state vehicle after regular work hours.

“There is a tax implication when you use the fleet vehicle because it's looked at as an additional benefit,” she said.

Since OMB's inquiry, Davis said, she has filled out the necessary paperwork, and is working on internal policy for her office so there is no future confusion about using a state vehicle after work hours.

Davis said she is figuring out how much to reimburse the state for the time she used the vehicle without proper approval, but she does not yet know how much she will pay. “There is no estimate on the tax implication yet,” she said, adding she expects to have an amount by the end of October.

In a statement issued Sept. 27, Davis apologized to constituents about any confusion her use of a state vehicle may have caused.

“My commitment to the public requires an open and honest dialogue with residents, one that simply cannot occur within the limits of our offices, one that requires my travel throughout the state. As a fiscal officer, I would never intentionally use state-owned property in a way that is inconsistent with state fleet vehicle policy and have now completed the relevant forms to use the vehicle outside of traditional working hours,” she said. “Serving as an elected official, I am called to the highest level of professionalism, and I assure you that remains my goal. We are working with other officials to define unauthorized use. I plan to rectify the issue both procedurally and financially according to those findings.”