Alleged misuse of county funds disputed

The Shawnee County Director of Public Works is accused of using the county’s mechanic shop to fix his own personal truck. Kansas First News received an anonymous letter dated April 1st, with those claims against Tom Vlach.

In a letter and picture, it claims that on March 12th, Tom Vlach’s personal vehicle was on the hoist in the Shawnee County Public Works mechanic shop.

The picture shows a gray pickup truck.

The letter states that Tom Vlach, the director of Shawnee County Public Works was using taxpayer money for his personal gain and is signed by “upset employees along with family members and friends.”

Vlach disputes these claims that he misused county resources. He says he recently implemented a process to increase accountability and production in the solid waste garage, and that the process was probably not well received by some of the staff.

On March 12th, Vlach noticed there was a warning light on his truck’s dashboard, Vlach says he asked one of the shop mechanics for advice on the urgency of the warning, and then continued on to a scheduled meeting. He says when he got out of the meeting, his truck had been fixed.

Vlach was unavailable Tuesday for a comment on camera, but through e-mails, stated, “Please let it be known I did not request nor direct that my truck be repaired, I was simply seeking advice regarding the severity of the problem so that I could make a decision as to what I wanted to do with it. The truck was repaired unbeknownst to me. ”

Shawnee County Counselor, Richard Eckert, refused to talk on camera about this matter, but did say off camera, the policy for the garage is the same as the general policy, county property is used for county business. Employees may only use county property for minor things, like a call to the doctor. Ultimately all property is owned by the taxpayers of Shawnee County.

Eckert went on to say that the employee Vlach asked to look at his truck is a great employee who always goes above and beyond what is asked of him. Shawnee County Commissioner, Bob Archer says, “If you know Tom, you know he is a respected professional, dedicated public servant, and a man of integrity.”

Vlach says he reported this incident to Commissioners on the 18th of March. Vlach also says he paid the employee the $32 the part cost out of his own pocket, plus an additional $8 for a special tool the employee had to purchase to install the part. He did not specify what the part was.

Richard Eckert says there will be no noticeable punishments to Vlach over this incident.

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