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County Commission exceeds travel budget, wants more

Whether additional travel dollars should be approved for Washington County commissioners, who are already over budget in that line item by more than $2,000, was considered again during the May 15 meeting of the Budget Committee.
Action on the request was deferred during the March meeting following a discussion on the example commissioners are setting for other departments.
“I have a problem asking for an increase when we tell other departments to work within the dollars allocated for their budgets,” Commissioner Joe Grandy said last week.
According to Director of Accounts and Budgets Bobbye Webb, the problem comes from making cuts in the travel line item, but continuing the same level of expenditures.
The trips are related to state association meetings, such as the Tennessee County Commissioners Association, and are optional for all 25 commissioners. There is no maximum limit on the number of commissioners allowed to attend.
The resolution requests a budget amendment to transfer $7,258 to the travel line from the county commission employee and dependent insurance line in the commission budget. A portion of the amount will cover the $2,127.49 overspent as of April 25.
The remaining $4,130.51 is requested for anticipated travel expenses during May and June. Ten commissioners plan to attend the Tennessee County Services Association meeting June 4-5 in Gatlinburg.
A $700 check has already been cut for registration fees, which must be mailed by the early deadline in order to get that rate. The balance of the request will be used to pay for 10 hotel rooms, food and mileage.
Commissioner Ethan Flynn made a motion to strike the $4,130.51 request from the resolution, but the motion died for lack of a second.
Grandy then amended the motion to approve the $700 in registration fees, which was seconded by Flynn.
The amended motion passed with unanimous approval.
No decision was made on the remainder of the expenses for the trip, though Budget Committee members have suggested more than once that commissioners should cover their own costs once available budget dollars for travel have been depleted.