PUEBLO, Colo. - Most Pueblo city employees authorized to drive work vehicles home live outside of city limits.
Of the 47 city vehicles taken home by city employees, 31 of those vehicles are driven by employees who live outside of Pueblo. The majority of vehicles taken home are by Pueblo police officers.
Deputy Chief Troy Davenport said the 35 police vehicles driven home are needed.
"In my opinion, based on 25 years in policing, I would say we need those cars," he said."
Councilman Chris Kaufman said he has no problem with emergency officials taking vehicles home but wishes they all lived in Pueblo County. The city pays for three employees to drive to their homes in El Paso County, including Police Chief Luis Velez.
"Those who live outside of the county, I have a hard time with that," Kaufman said. "Unemployment here in Pueblo is 10, 11 percent on a fairly regular basis and we're having to hire people who don't even live in Pueblo County. That's an unfortunate reality we face."
When Velez was offered the job as police chief three years ago, he told KRDO NewsChannel 13 he decided not to sell his home and move to Pueblo because of the struggling housing market.
"The market's beginning to show an uptick, but not yet where I feel comfortable," Velez said.
Davenport believes the vehicles taken home are an integral step in responding to emergencies. "The citizens expect a certain level of response, a certain level of service, and in order to provide that service, you have to have that equipment."
City Manager Sam Azad said a city resolution allows city employees to take vehicles home, regardless of where they live, if they need to respond to emergencies or attend late-night meetings.