LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The mayor of West Buechel is facing backlash after using a city-owned car for personal use.

Mayor Rick Richards admits to using the car to drive down to Florida after Christmas to see family but said he paid for the gas.

“I paid for a tire on it, I paid for the fuel on it, so I don’t call that on the taxpayers' dime,” Richards said Tuesday night.

Richards said the city’s police officers take home their patrol vehicles, so he doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

“They are allowed to use their car for off-duty work, and as long as they are paying for their own fuel, apparently in the past no one has had a problem with that,” Richards said.

But many residents do have a problem with it.

“I think it is definitely wrong for him to do that, to run out of town to a different state, obviously.," said Quentin Morris, who lives in West Buechel and said said he believes Richards must pay for using the car if for something not work-related.

"But right now, I think he needs to do the right thing."

This is just the latest issue for the city following accusations of taxpayer money being stolen, forged checks, and the misuse of city credit cards to buy items from the Home Shopping Network, the last of which was done during a previous administration.  

“Taxpayer money has to be used for a public purpose, not a personal purpose,” said Thomas Fox, who was appointed as West Buechel Councilman last week. “(The mayor) needs to reimburse the city for the cost, for the rental value of the car, and then stop doing it. If he needs a car, he can go rent one or use his own."

Richards knows that citizens may have an issue with him using a city-owned car for personal use but doesn’t agree it was on the taxpayers' dime.

"We have a difference of opinion," he said.

Fox said he plans to bring up the issue at the next West Buechel Council meeting on Feb. 13.

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