Deserted car will cost NIU

By Caryn Rosenberg

The NIU Transportation Department is stuck holding a $999.80 bill after one of its cars was abandoned in Kansas City.

An individual rented the car from Wednesday, Oct. 23 to Saturday, Oct. 26 in order to attend a conference in Kansas City, Mo., Transportation Manager Bill Finucane said.

Finucane said the individual called the transportation department Saturday complaining of car troubles and, after speaking with mechanics, discovered it was a problem with the manifold air pressure sensor.

“The MAP affects the running condition of the car and if it isn’t working properly, the car idles roughly and may stop running entirely,” he said.

Finucane said this type of repair can be done in a short period.

“If the car is here and we have the part on hand, we could have it fixed within 10 minutes,” Finucane said.

The individual had the car towed to an automotive garage where it could be repaired, but claimed workers there could not service the vehicle, he said.

“The workers there said they don’t remember the individual coming in and asking them to repair the car,” Finucane said.

“The individual failed to get (the car) repaired and apparently got a ride home with someone and abandoned the car,” he said.

The identity of the individual who rented the vehicle and the department the person is from are not being disclosed at this time because of ongoing discussions taking place.

Finucane said he assumed the car was fixed because the individual called NIU between 10 a.m. and noon on Saturday and the garage was open until 4 p.m., but the car was not on the lot Monday morning. The department did not know the car was still in Kansas City until the individual called hours later.

Finucane said officials had to decide the most efficient way to get the car to DeKalb.

He said flying was not practical because ground transportation from NIU to the airport back to the vehicle would be a problem. In addition, the mechanics needed extra room because they had to bring parts to repair the vehicle.

“If the individual had it fixed there and brought it back it would have cost about $125,” he said.

Instead, two mechanics had to be sent out, with costs for mileage, lodging and food totaling $999.80, a difference of $874.80, Finucane said.

Patricia Hewitt, associate vice president for Business and Operations, said people should think of their actions from a global perspective of the university and try to be more cost-efficient.

“To my understanding it appeared that the person simply didn’t want to wait for the car to get fixed,” Hewitt said.

As a result, the refusal to wait a couple of hours cost the university an excessive amount of money.

“We have to make that $1,000 back somehow,” Hewitt said.

Hewitt said she does not know of a situation like this ever happening before.

“Hopefully, this will be an isolated incident,” Hewitt said.