County Keeps Close Eye On Employees’ Fuel Expenses

SNOW HILL – Worcester County exercises tight control over fuel access by county vehicles and equipment, Public Works Director John Tustin reported this week in the wake of the Wicomico County fuel thefts allegedly perpetrated by staff in that county.

Drivers must use an electronic card to access Worcester County fuel, Tustin said, and each time fuel is pumped from the county’s two fuel stations, the amount and the vehicle are recorded. The cards are standard amounts and only permit a certain amount of fuel to be pumped. 

“My vehicle has 22 gallons a tank. I can only get 25 gallons at a time with this card,” Tustin said. “It’s not a wide open card.”

Tustin also pointed out both fuel stations are under surveillance. “Tapes are made of everyone in and out,” Tustin said.

The Snow Hill fuel station is open access 24 hours a day, but the fuel station at the Ocean Pines Wastewater Plant is behind closed fencing overnight, although drivers can access the station with their card.

Maryland State Police and other law enforcement, as well as state officials, also use Worcester County fuel stations, as Worcester County staff and police do when driving official vehicles in other jurisdictions. All are billed for usage by the jurisdiction that owns the fuel station.

“It provides great flexibility,” said Tustin.

Heavy equipment at the landfill, like bulldozers and compactors, fuel up at an old, immobile tanker truck.

“No wheels, no engine, no windshield. It can’t move other than being dragged around the landfill,” Tustin said.

Although the landfill tanker is not monitored through a card system, fuel use there is very consistent, he said, with no anomalies.

Tustin could remember only one instance of fuel theft in his tenure, when an employee was caught fueling his personal vehicle with county fuel. The employee was fired.

Each department receives a monthly bill for gasoline, with usage listed by vehicle and driver.          Custodial supplies are also tracked carefully, and monthly bills are sent out.

“The controls are in place,” Tustin said.

Fleet maintenance, which keeps $15,000 worth of parts on hand, creates work orders for every repair and includes all parts used. “There’s a great paper trail,” Tustin said.  

After the report, Commissioner Judy Boggs said, “I see really great accountability and a great system of checks and balances.”