Insurance info – Brown and Brown Insurance representative John Caro explained the company’s vehicle insurance requirements during a special meeting of the St. Martinville City Council on Nov. 13.(Karl Jeter)
SMCC ends mayor’s vehicle allowance
The city council here has voted to end the $800 allowance being paid to Mayor Melinda Mitchell for the use of her own vehicle for city business.
During a special meeting on Nov. 13, the allowance was cancelled at Mitchell’s request. After taking office in July 2018, Mitchell requested the monthly payment rather than using a vehicle provided by the city, which likely would have been a nearly new pickup truck that was used by Mayor Thomas Nelson while he was in office.
Mitchell has been driving her own Mercedes car while on city business.
The special meeting was called after repeated attempts over the past year and a half to get Mitchell to provide proof that she was carrying the required insurance on her car were unsuccessful. Mitchell claims she has always carried insurance, but, for reasons that are not clear, she has not provided the requested evidence.
John Caro with the city’s insurance carrier Brown and Brown Insurance, explained the company’s policy on non-city-owned vehicle use. While an umbrella policy will protect the city from liability if drivers are not insured, it is intended to kick in only to cover damages above the personal policy limits. The company requires that employees using their own vehicles carry the state minimum $100,000/300,000 liability coverage.
Councilman Juma Johnson suggested that the information provided by Caro meant that the city is protected and proof of the mayor’s insurance is not needed. However, Councilman Craig Prosper responded that both Brown and Brown policy and state law requires basic insurance. City attorney Allan Durand added that the city should institute a policy of keeping current proof of insurance for all hired vehicles on file.
Prosper said he had spoken to auditor Burton Kolder, who told him that allowing private vehicles to be used without proof of insurance would likely result in a negative finding on the annual audit.
At that, Johnson conceded that proof of insurance should be provided by drivers of personal vehicles.
The city is expected to purchase a new car for the mayor through the state vehicle procurement program. The car payment, insurance and a fuel allowance will likely cost the city somewhat less than the $800 allowance that was cancelled.