Aldermen urged to adopt travel reimbursement plan

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 27, 2001

Following election-related questions about mayoral travelexpense reimbursements, City Accountant Verbalee Watts Fridayrecommended that aldermen adopt a definite policy on travelapproval and procedures.

During a budget work session meeting, Watts told officials thatcurrent travel reimbursement forms require only monthly, not daily,totals and the position of the employee making the request.

Citing a conversion with state audit department officials, Wattssaid a more detailed travel reimbursement form used for stateemployees would be sufficient to address the situation.

Watts said the state form has some good points, but someinformation may not be needed for the city purposes. She suggestedaldermen develop a definite travel approval policy, review thestate form and adopt a version of it.

“When you get one, I’ll be glad to run it by the auditdepartment and see what they think,” Watts said.

Watts also discussed her review of Mayor Bill Godbold’s travelexpense reimbursements after former aldermen and mayoral candidatesJohn Roberts and Henry Newman raised questions during this year’scampaign. Watts said she contacted the state audit departmentregarding the matter.

“We were advised that if the travel reports had been approved bythe board of aldermen, then this was a legal expenditure,” Wattssaid. “The travel reports examined by our office were for the past42 months, and it would appear if there were any questions aboutthem they should have been addressed long ago.”

In looking at the mayor’s travel, Watts said the city was billedfor 86,524 miles, but the mayor’s daily mileage sheets showed only86,508 miles. The difference was the result of the mayor’s roundingmiles to an even figure.

With a 32.5-cent reimbursement rate, Watts said the mayor owesthe city $5.20 due to the miscalculation. After the work session,Godbold said he would pay back the difference.

Aldermen took no action Friday on Watts’ recommendation. Theboard was expected to review new travel form and possibly act atits next meeting on Sept. 4.