Gary Autry

Catoosa County Tax Commissioner Gary Autry requests a vehicle for his office during the Nov. 5 Board of Commissioner’s meeting.

Catoosa County commissioners have approved the purchase of a new SUV for the tax commissioner’s office to cut down on how much employees have to use their personal vehicles for work.

During the Nov. 5 Board of Commissioner’s meeting, Tax Commissioner Gary Autry explained that the need for the vehicle extends to his entire office.

“I’m here to request a vehicle for the tax office,” Autry said. “It is not a personal vehicle for the tax commissioner. We utilize the small vehicle that we do have, but as someone pointed out, it is kind of small for me to get into, so I’ve never driven it or used it.”

The recommended bid was from Prater Ford in the amount of $29, 295.88.

Some residents have been critical of vehicle spending over the past few months after a new SUV was purchased for the city manager in February, followed up by one for the Economic Development Authority director on Oct. 28.

In Autry’s case, he says the vehicle will be utilized by multiple employees as sort of a community vehicle for the office.

“We’ve been utilizing personal vehicles and getting reimbursement funding for the fuel mileage and we’ve been driving the county vehicles as much as we can,” Autry explained.

During the discussion, Commissioner Chuck Harris said he looked over the numbers turned in by the tax commissioner’s office and feels that purchasing a vehicle is the more cost-effective method of providing business transportation for Autry’s team.

“Numbers are numbers and the fact that you guys got reimbursed $8,250 in round numbers last year tells me that in pretty quick order that this car will be paid for,” Harris said.

Harris also addressed the fact that he voted against purchasing a nearly identical vehicle in late October for the new Economic Development Authority director, but sees this purchase as a bigger need.

“I’m not against buying cars. I’m for buying cars in a strategic plan and saving the county money in the long-term,” Harris explained.

After the discussion, the vehicle bid was approved by a 4-1 vote.

Autry said the vehicle will be purchased out of 2014 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009.

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