Vehicle bureau issued citation

State police say agency neglected inspections

Officials to contest action

Maintenance exceeds requirements, they say

Carroll County

December 14, 2003|By Hanah Cho | Hanah Cho,SUN STAFF

The bureau of Carroll County government responsible for maintaining county-owned vehicles has been charged with violating a state law requiring annual inspections and repairs for large trucks, according to the Maryland State Police.

Responding to an anonymous tip, an inspector from the State Police Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Section issued a citation Dec. 3 charging that county fleet vehicles were not being inspected as required by law, said Sgt. Thornnie Rouse, a state police spokesman.

Under state law, trucks of more than 10,000 pounds, along with passenger buses and tractors and semi-trailers, must be "inspected, maintained and repaired" every 25,000 miles or every 12 months, whichever comes first. The fine imposed on the county is $1,023, Rouse said.

Neither the citation, which was issued to a fleet bureau supervisor, nor Rouse, the police spokesman, said what types of county-owned vehicles were allegedly overdue for inspections.

The county's Bureau of Fleet Management and Warehouse Operations repairs and maintains about 700 vehicles, including sedans, dump trucks and snowplows, said Everett "Chip" Purkins, chief of the bureau. Purkins said he would not comment specifically on the details of the citation - which he said is the first of its type issued in the 12 years he has headed the bureau.

County officials said they plan to contest the citation.

Ralph E. Green, director of the county's Department of General Services, which oversees fleet management, said Friday that he is looking into the circumstances surrounding the citation.

Purkins said his office has a "very rigorous" maintenance program for county vehicles. On top of the required annual inspections, Purkins said, fleet management also conducts additional maintenance checks on vehicles every 4,000 miles.

"We do the best we can," Purkins said. "Nothing unsafe goes out."

The citation was issued two days before the first snowstorm of the winter season hit Maryland. About 60 plows hit the roads, which is the typical number of trucks operated during most snowstorms, Purkins said, adding that the citation did not affect the county's cleanup efforts.

Likewise, Purkins said Friday, snowplows were being readied for the winter weather forecast for this weekend.

The same number of plows were expected to be out on the roads.

"I don't expect [the citation] to have any impact on any event this weekend," he said.

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