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Mequon fire chief to reimburse city for personal use of vehicle

Alderman says vehicle should have city insignia

Dec. 20, 2011

Mequon - The city's fire chief drives an unmarked vehicle but for the immediate future he will pay taxes for the value of any private use of the vehicle.

Alderman Dan Abendroth raised a question about employee use of vehicles a year ago.

Fire Chief David Bialk drives an unmarked 2010 Chevy Tahoe. In order to meet IRS requirements as a qualified, non-personal vehicle, the Tahoe would have to have a badge or city of Mequon insignia on it.

"The issue, in my mind, is he has the vehicle to respond to emergencies," Abendroth told the city's Finance and Personnel Committee last week. "It should be badged. If he doesn't want that done, he should use his own car."

Bialk was not at the meeting but City Administrator Lee Szymborski said he had discussed the issue with him.

"He believes his vehicle is in line with other command vehicles in Fire Departments in other communities and also with the police chiefs who drive unmarked vehicles," Szymborski said. "This also makes him less conspicuous to his critics."

Abendroth had an answer for that.

"His critics know he is driving a black Suburban (Tahoe) with smoked windows," he said. "I know it's him when I see him coming."

Alderman Dan Gannon said the city should make sure Bialk reimburses the city for all costs due. Bialk is willing to do that, Szymborski said.

Director of Finance Tom Watson said he ask Bialk to maintain a log for his use of the vehicle. Based on the log, he estimates a tax value of approximately $2,500.

Abendroth continues to maintain that the car should be marked as a department vehicle.

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