The Thousand Oaks City Council has approved a new car for City Manager Grant Brimhall, but two council members are unhappy that he apparently purchased the 1995 Chevrolet Suburban 4x4 before being given permission.
An agenda item discussed at Tuesday's council meeting asked the panel to spend nearly $23,000 of taxpayer dollars and lend Brimhall another $12,000 for the new $35,000 vehicle.
The request was approved, but only because a little-known city policy allows both the city manager and city attorney to receive new cars at some public expense when their vehicles surpass 100,000 miles, Mayor Jaime Zukowski said.
"The city attorney got a new car a year ago on a split vote," Zukowski said. "But the policy adopted last year calls for replacement after 100,000 miles."
What's more, "it was not an item that could be voted on because the car had been acquired," Zukowski added. "But it is time to review those policies."
Councilwoman Elois Zeanah agreed, saying that in tough budgetary times, city taxpayers have no obligation to provide top officials with new cars.
The deal calls for Brimhall to borrow more than $12,000 from city coffers and repay that portion of the selling price in biweekly payments.
"We pay our city manager and city attorney so much money that they should not have to ask for a loan," Zeanah said. "I'm going to bring this up as a budget-cutting item."
Grimhall, who had been driving a 1991 Plymouth van with 168,000 miles, did not return calls seeking comment. His annual base salary is about $129,000.
The council also approved spending another $35,000 for 15 electric golf carts at the city-owned Los Robles Golf Course, which maintains a fleet of 90 carts and replaces 15 each year.