It’s a perk that is costing Illinois taxpayers billions of dollars: government-owned cars. You see them all over the road. They either have an ‘M’ or ‘U’ on their license plates.
Some lucky government employees even take their cars home or use them for vacation, but as CBS 2 Investigator Dave Savini and the Better Government Association uncovered, taxpayers may be the ones being taken for a ride.
CBS 2 caught up to Jack Waxweiler sitting in what is called a government take-home car, paid for by your tax dollars.
When asked if his car had been used for a recent trip to Florida, Waxweiler said, “No, not that I know of.”
Jack Waxweiler is the Lockport Township Highway Department Commissioner. He didn’t know the 2 Investigators had been looking into his personal use of the $42,000 GMC Yukon, including a springtime road trip he said he didn’t take to Florida.
When asked if he was sure he didn’t take the trip or if somebody else used his truck, he said, “No.”
Waxweiler was then presented with a picture of his truck parked under a palm tree. The photos were submitted to the 2 Investigators by a CBS 2 viewer.
When pressed about where the photo was taken, Waxweiler said, “Find out for yourself. I don’t have to tell the taxpayers nothing!”
Many government workers with take-home cars do not have to pay for gas, insurance, maintenance or parking.
The 2 Investigators found there are 180,000 licensed government cars in the state of Illinois, costing taxpayers billions. But how many of these are take-home cars?
Records show there are at least 160,000 cars with M-plates like the one given to Waxweiler in Illinois.
M-plates are extremely difficult to track because they are registered to thousands of different taxing bodies or municipalities statewide, like Lockport Township where Waxweiler works.
When asked to tell the truth, Waxweiler said, “Just back away, alright!”
“Jack Waxweiler is the tip of the iceberg,” said Andy Shaw, Executive Director of the Better Government Association. “It’s got to stop.”
Shaw agrees with suggestions that there needs to be a full audit on every government vehicle in Illinois.
“Tell us who needs the take-home car, so that we can tell all the people who don’t need them to give them back, and give us refunds and lower our taxes,” Shaw said.
CBS 2 discovered that there are at least 20,000 government vehicles with U-plates registered to the state of Illinois, and 1,806 of them are take-home cars. Multiply that with the average annual lease for a base sedan and the cost to taxpayers could be as much as $10.8 million a year.
“I haven’t been on a vacation with taxpayers’ money in 12 years since I’ve had this job,” Waxweiler said. “Alright. So I’m entitled to a weekend.”
CBS 2 Investigators learned that the photos were taken in Siesta Key, Florida. During the interview, Waxweiler admitted that he did go to Florida but claimed he was also conducting business.
Lockport Township Officials including their attorney did not return our calls. CBS 2 and the BGA have now launched an investigation into all take-home cars and the cost to taxpayers.