CHARLESTON, WV - A legislative audit released Oct. 14 revealed 90 West Virginia state employees failed to report use of state vehicles to commute to and from work in 2008, according to The Charleston Gazette. In addition, numerous other state employees significantly under-reported the value of their use of state vehicles.

West Virginia spends $60 million to $70 million a year to operate its fleet of nearly 7,000 vehicles -- including $24 million for gasoline alone in 2008 -- but has no effective means to monitor employees' use of the vehicles, according to the audit.

Internal Revenue Service rules allow employees to calculate a commuting value of $3 per workday -- if the vehicle is used at least 50 percent of the time for business purposes. However, if business use is less than 50 percent, the IRS requires that the reportable income be increased to the lease value of the vehicle.

The audit found many instances of state vehicles used primarily for non-business mileage -- including two Miners' Health, Safety and Training staffers with 22,536 and 27,936 miles of personal usage -- reported at only the $3 daily commuting value.

The Fleet Management Division of the Department of Administration has stricter rules for employees' use of state vehicles -- but accounts for only 1,700 of the 6,838 vehicles licensed to 88 different state agencies.

Administration Secretary Robert Ferguson told legislators that, over the years, a variety of state agencies have been authorized to operate their own vehicle fleets, including Highways, Natural Resources, Forestry, the attorney general's office, the State Police, and most higher education institutions.

Ferguson said the administration has been evaluating the pros and cons of consolidating the fleet.

"I think what we're talking about here is not who's got the vehicle, but the proper reporting of personal use of the vehicle," Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, D-Logan, said of the audit.