LEX 18 News Investigates

Jun 2, 2014 5:59 PM

LEX 18 Investigates: Lextran Altering Policy After Employee Takes Equipment Home

Lextran officials say they are creating a policy addressing the "borrowing" of equipment by employees after LEX 18 Investigates found a Lextran-owned engine hoist at the home of a maintenance worker.

The hoist was in the driveway of the Versailles Road home of Jeff Jones, a maintenance employee of the taxpayer-funded transit system.

Jones initially refused to speak with LEX 18 Investigative Reporter Richard Essex when asked whether the equipment belonged to Lextran. A few minutes later, he came out of his house and admitted the lift was property of his employer.

Jones said he was given permission to take the lift home by the maintenance supervisor and that it was common for Lextran employees to borrow items "on a limited basis."

"That's an idle piece of equipment that's only used in the winter months," he said.

Many taxpayer funded agencies have policies preventing employees from using equipment for non-work-related tasks. For example, the code of ethics for employees of the city of Lexington says employees cannot "use property owned by such governmental body for personal benefit, convenience or profit."

However, Lextran is a quasi-government partner agency of the city which has its own set of rules.

Lextran officials refused to speak on camera, but spokeswoman Jill Barnett said in an e-mail that Lextran does not have specific policy in place regarding borrowing of equipment.

"A Lextran employee was given permission to take a piece of equipment to their home. That item has since been returned and is now in our possession," the statement said. "To date, there has not been a specific policy in place regarding the borrowing of equipment. However, a policy is in development and measures are being taken to ensure this is not a reoccurring issue."

Specifically, Barnett said, employees are not allowed to use Lextran facilities for personal use aside from the occasional "emergency ‘jump' of someone's vehicle or provide emergency air to their tire."

Beyond that, using equipment for personal use "while inside Lextran facilities could be grounds for discipline," she said.

The quasi-government agency is more than 60 percent taxpayer funded, obtaining about $15 million yearly from a mass transit tax, and millions more from state and federal grants.

The multi-million dollar agency has its own garage with lots of equipment used to maintain and repair the fleet of 73 buses and vans - equipment like the engine hoist in Jones' driveway.

Jones said he'd had the hoist about four days before LEX 18 Investigates was tipped off to it. He said he and maintenance supervisor Mike Nagy saw no harm in his borrowing it since it's not being used, adding that Lextran uses it to install and remove salt spreaders in the winter.

When asked about the financial implications of lending heavy equipment, Barnett said Lextran's interests would be protected if the equipment were damaged or the employee injured on their property.

"Lextran would not be liable for any injury incurred by an employee while using that equipment on their own private property. Lextran would deny any associated worker's compensation claims and would pursue subrogation against the homeowner's policy if necessary," she said.

LEX 18 Investigates will continue following the development of the borrowing policy.

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