costs for chiefs, others figured

BROOKLINE – For several weeks, selectmen have been discussing changing the town policy on the use of town vehicles by department heads, citing rising fuel costs.

On Monday, officials learned how much taxpayers are shelling out so that some department heads can drive town-owned cars to and from work – a perk meant to improve response time in an emergency.

According to an analysis by Selectman James McElroy, the town is spending $5.56 a day for Police Chief Thomas Goulden’s 25-mile round-trip commute from his home in Nashua. Goulden has used the town police vehicle to commute to and from work since he assumed the top police post 11 years ago.

Ambulance service director Wes Whittier, who lives in nearby Pepperell, Mass., could use his town vehicle if he wanted to. But he said he prefers his personal one, and has installed emergency radios.

The town’s fire chief, Charles Corey, drives his town-owned vehicle to and from work, a distance of less than a quarter-mile.

McElroy’s spreadsheet showed that the town is spending $1,444 in fuel this year for the police chief’s commute. It costs the town $12 a year for the fire chief to drive his vehicle to and from work, according to the analysis.

“These are very small costs in the overall budget,” McElroy said.

The board, minus member Bill Owens, who resigned last week because of health problems, could decide on a new policy next week.