CRESTVIEW — Networking with other cities’ elected leaders and learning innovative ways to meet Crestview’s challenges are some benefits of attending out-of-town conferences, city council members said.
For long-distance travel, though, council members would like some of their expenses reimbursed.
Meeting in a Dec. 10 workshop to discuss travel expense reimbursement, council members said having Crestview represented at events like the regional and state League of Cities meetings has increased the city’s stature.
However, travel expense reimbursement money was excluded from the 2012-13 city budget, so city leaders must fund their own expenses. For trips no farther than Tallahassee, they willingly assume the expense, Councilman Charles Baugh Jr. said.
“If we’re gonna grow (as a city), we gotta go (to league meetings),” Councilman Tom Gordon said.
Reimbursement discussion originated in October when Council President Ben Iannucci III requested reimbursement for nearly $600 in expenses, including $239.27 for a one-night stay at the Florida League of Cities conference hotel in Kissimmee. He learned there was no budget item for travel reimbursement.
“We have done a lot as council members to have representation on various boards,” Baugh said. “People don’t ask me ‘Where’s Crestview?’ anymore, but now they know that Crestview is one of the largest cities we have in Northwest Florida because of our representation on the board.”
Travel reimbursement could come from the city’s contingency fund or another line item if necessary, Finance Director Patti Beebe said.
The Florida League of Cities can also reimburse some travel expenses, Baugh said. He offered to set aside a quarter of his councilman’s compensation to help cover his travel expenses.
City Clerk Betsy Roy said her office would review past travel expenses, examine the mayor’s budget and other budgets and bring recommendations for reimbursement options before the council for consideration.
Contact News Bulletin Staff Writer Brian Hughes at 850-682-6524 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian.