Thursday, January 30, 2020

Rockville Mayor & Council to consider amending city travel policy

The City of Rockville's government travel policy could be amended soon. A discussion of possible amendments will be held by the Mayor and Council at their meeting Monday night, February 3, 2020 at 7:00 PM. Mayor Bridget Donnell Newton and City Council members, along with members of the City's Compensation Commission, will take part in Travel Policy Training tomorrow, January 31, ahead of Monday's discussion.

In a report, the Compensation Commission revived a recommendation by a prior commission that the Mayor and Council be able to receive reimbursement for travel expenses the same as City staff. They said this would eliminate any murkiness on what travel can be reimbursed for elected officials by providing a precise framework. The commission also recommended giving each Councilmember and the Mayor a separate $5000 travel budget apiece. By FY2024, the allowance would increase to $6000 annually. The travel issue is part of a larger discussion of boosting compensation for the Mayor and Council. 

Travel policy abuse is not rare in our area; Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer was found to have received compensation for travel to private meetings with his campaign donors, and requested - and received - compensation from taxpayers for a campaign-style website, despite already having a County Council website for official business. No one, including the Council, ethics oversight bodies, nor the local media (those aware included The Washington Post) besides this website, has investigated nor addressed that inappropriate use of taxpayer funds by Riemer to date.

Photo courtesy City of Rockville