|Ex-Dare Commissioner Cheryl Byrd|
As a sample, EOD spoke with county officials in Currituck, Pasquotank (Elizabeth City), Pitt (Greenville) and Wake (Raleigh)counties and found that none of them issue personal credit cards to their commissoners. When asked, a Wake County official said they defiinitely do not allow alcoholic beverages to be charged to the county, as apparently is the case with Dare County. EOD had noted a couple of such charges on Dare County bills, but did not question the other counties about their policy..
EOD made a public records request for copies of all commissioner and the county manager's travel expenses, in and out of county, for the period July 1, 2009 thru Sept. 30, 2010. However, records for four of those months were not included in the documents received and a re-request has been made.
Prior to the fiscal year ending June 30, 2000, each county commissioner was required to file monthly travel reports to seek reimbursement for in-county travel, meals, etc. incurred while performing their official duties.
However, beginning that year, the board voted to allocate $300 per month to each commissioner and $400 per month to the chairman to cover those expenses. Since that time, the stipend has been given to them monthly and no in-county travel reports are required. In addition, amounts ranging from $24,000 to $35,250 per year has also been allocated since the year 2000, to the board for out-of county/out-of state travel.
Included with this blogpost, is a video portion of a discussion held during the August 2, 1999 commissioners' meeting when the new plan came under fire by some local residents. Payments had started July 1, 1999 and ex-Commissioner Cheryl Byrd was adamantly opposed to it. She said it amounted to nothing but a $3600 and $4800 pay raise. Likewise, ex-Commissioner Moncie Daniels, III said he didn't think the board should be paid for in-county expenses at all, "under normal circumstances", citing entertaining dignitaries as a possible exception. Likewise, ex-Commissioner Anna Sadler expressed opposition to the new method and said she thought the board should be held accountable for their actual out-of-pocket expenses.
(click here to view video). Turn volume up, audio is low.
An attempt by Byrd to get a board majority to reject the new payment method was unsuccessful. The attached video shows Commissioner Richard Johnson, the only remaining member of that board, explaining that the new stipend covered in-county "meals" as well as travel, etc.
The current board of Dare County Commissioners needs to answer to the public regarding their current practice. How many thousands of dollars has been illegally spent over the past ten years is anyone's guess.
It's time for it to stop.
Note: EOD will cover some aspects of abuse on out-of-county travel expenditures by the board in an upcoming blogpost.