Ocean Springs Leaders Reconsidering New Vehicle Take Home Policy

Some Ocean Springs Public Works employees take their trucks home so they can respond to emergencies quicker. But a new policy would force Public Works employees to pay to drive their vehicles to and from work.

Mayor Seren Ainsworth says the issue came up because "We wanted to adhere to all the IRS rules and regulations."

Employees won't have to pay out of their own pockets. Instead, the amount would be considered income, as a fringe benefit, and subject to state and federal taxes.

Alderman-At-Large Danny Jalanivich voted for the change, because he thought the law only exempted fire and police vehicles.

"The information we had on hand showed us that the trucks that the Public Works Department was taking home wasn't qualified," Jalanivich said.

Several employees did not want to do an interview with WLOX about this story. Also, Public Works Director Andre Kaufman did not return our calls for a comment. However, the mayor tells us he did receive a letter from a group of employees complaining about the policy.

Since the vote, Jalanivich has changed his mind about the policy. He says he plans to ask the aldermen to reverse the policy at their May 7th meeting.

"I'll be the first one to stand up and saying hey, I was wrong," Jalanivich said. "My interpretation of the law from the IRS allows these public works trucks to go home, because they are used on an emergency basis. They carry tools, they carry equipment, they carry parts."

"I'm doing some additional research in the IRS code to see if there is possible exemptions that we can apply to some vehicles, particularly concerning Public Works," Mayor Ainsworth said.

For now, the new policy is on-hold until the Mayor finishes his research.