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County to take up travel policy again

POSTED: January 6, 2014 8:37 p.m.

Effingham County commissioners will take up a travel policy Tuesday that has been tabled three times.

Assistant county attorney Elizabeth Pavlis said she struck one clause from the policy because it conflicted with other parts of the proposed policy. Interim county administrator Toss Allen also said he wanted to clean up some of the policy’s grammar and syntax in presenting a final document for review.

“I would rather this be re-written and presented to us,” Chairman Wendall Kessler said at the commissioners’ Dec. 17 meeting, “so that we’re taking on a finished document.”

Under the policy up for adoption, commissioners will approve their own travel through a board vote while the county administrator signs off on travel allowances for county employees.

Under the policy, prior approval for travel expenses, such as those associated with training, meetings or conferences, must be acquired from the appropriate department head or county administrator. All requests should be received by the county administrator two weeks in advance of the travel date, if possible.

The proposal also states the county administrator may refer estimated travel expenses in excess of $500 to the commissioners for approval. Also, according to the proposal, the county will pay only for the employee’s travel expenses. Expenses incurred by spouses on such trips will not be covered by the county.

Elected officials also will be asked to submit travel requests to the county administrator for budgeting purposes, according to the draft policy.

The county will not reimburse expenses stemming from events sponsored or affiliated with political parties, under the policy to be considered, and expenses related to alcoholic beverages, luxury car rentals, meal expenses included in the cost of registration and recreational expenses such as golf, tennis or in-room movies will not be reimbursed.

If an event is more than a day’s drive away from Effingham, the county may pay for coach airfare, but the policy also recommends using county vehicles to drive to an event or meeting whenever possible. Lodging also will not be authorized if the event is less than 100 miles away, unless the event lasts for two or more days.

The updated travel policy stems from issues identified by county staff and the previous audit. Commissioners and county employees are regulated by separate travel policies.

Commissioners also are expected to approve the qualifying fees for this year’s countywide elections. Fees are set at 3 percent of the position’s salary, making the qualifying for state court judge $3,607.56, state court solicitor $3,066.42, county commissioner $454.04 and school board member $72. Three county commissioner seats — districts 2, 3 and 5 — are up for election, as are the first and fourth district seats on the school board.


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