By Grant Bosse
All three of New Hampshire’s Liquor Commissioners have lost the use of their state-issued cars, after racking up thousands of miles in personal use last year. Under a new law, state agencies have to reassign cars that are used more than 15% of the time for Non Business Use, unless a panel of state officials approves a waiver. That committee voted 4-1 against letting all Joseph Mollica, Michael Milligan, and Mark Bodi keep their state cars.
Documents filed with the Department of Administrative Services also appear to show that all three Commissioners originally understated the amount of personal miles they drove when seeking to keep their state cars.
Liquor Commission Chairman Joseph Mollica drove a 2010 Chevrolet Impala a total of 13,836 miles in Fiscal Year 2011. In his waiver request to Administrative Services Commissioner Linda Hodgden, dated August 10, 2011, Mollica claimed to have accumulated 5,520 miles for non-business use, but the official report Hodgden presented to the Legislative Fiscal Committee states that Mollica drove 8,799 miles not on state business.
It would have cheaper for New Hampshire taxpayers to reimburse Mollica at $.55 per miles for the 5,037 miles he drove on state business. According to DAS estimates on the cost of maintaining state vehicles, it cost $1,770 to subsidize Mollica’s personal use of the vehicle.
Commissioner Michael Milligan had the fewest personal miles of the three, and the lowest percentage of non-business use. According to the DAS report, Milligan drove a 2008 Ford Fusion a total of 18,329 miles in FY11, 9,916 miles on official business and 8,413 for personal use. But his August waiver requests claims to have only accumulated 5,920 miles non-business use.
That request contained identical language to Mollica and Bodi’s letters, seeking to justify Milligan taking the state vehicle home at night.
This vehicle is used for commission business from the Commission’s offices in Concord and frequently from a home office. On a regular basis, Commissioner Milligan travels directly from his home to visit our 76 retail store locations. It is not unusual for him to spend the entire business day traveling from store to store. Commissioner Milligan also attends meetings throughout the state with business partners and other state officials. In addition, Commissioner Milligan attends special events held at our retail stores and other venues during evenings and weekends.
DAS estimates that Milligan’s personal use of a state vehicle cost $545 more than it would have to reimburse him for his official travel.
Commissioner Mark Bodi, who chaired the three-member panel until being demoted last year, drove by far the most personal miles, and the highest percentage of non-business use. According to the DAS report, Bodi drove just under 75% of his miles for non-business use. Bodi accumulated 17,099 miles on a 2006 Chevrolet Impala LS.
Bodi’s waiver request claims that he drove 8,710 miles for non-business use, but the DAS report concludes 12,793 miles were off the clock. DAS estimates the cost of those personal miles at $3,253 more than reimbursement for Bodi’s 4,306 miles driven on state business.
Hodgden tells New Hampshire Watchdog that if the Liquor Commission would like to have a state vehicle to use as a pool car for Liquor Commissioners to use for official travel, that request would likely be granted. The New Hampshire Liquor Commission did not returns requests for comment on this story.
The committee did approve the continued use of one Liquor Commission vehicle that had more than 15% of its miles for non-business use, unanimously approving a waiver for Investigator Glen Bullock to keep using a 2004 Chevy Impala. In FY11, Bullock drove the car 4,877 miles, 1,360 of which were non-business use. DAS estimates that letting Bullock use the vehicle saved taxpayers $343 versus paying Bullock for $.55 per mile for his official travel. A fifth Liquor Commission car that tripped the 15% threshold was reassigned by the Commission. The Liquor Commission has 45 state vehicles in its fleet.
NH Liquor Store photo: Grant Bosse
Commissioner photos: NH Liquor Commission