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Council members draft list of reimbursable meetings

Port Orchard’s City Council tentatively approved a list of reimbursable council expenses during a work study meeting on June 17.

The council sought to approve a list of meetings, training, travel and other expenses that would be reimbursed for council members. The list, composed of 14 items, would have an allotted budget of $3,520 for the council.

Currently, no set list is approved and the council is reimbursed for expenses on a case-by-case basis.

Council member Jerry Childs brought the list to the council.

“The list will take out a lot of heartburn to what you can and can’t do,” Childs said.

Three items on the list were discussed in length. A $40 reimbursement for the Kitsap Peninsula Visitors and Convention Bureau meetings, a $60 reimbursement for the Realtors Annual Meeting and a $60 reimbursement for the Home Builder’s Annual Meeting drew attention from the city’s mayor, Tim Matthes, and the city’s treasurer, Allan Martin.

Martin and Matthes said that the meetings hadn’t previously been reimbursed because alcohol was served and reimbursement would  violate the Pherris Memo, a federal document outlining what things cities could reimburse staff and leaders for.

Matthes, who chooses not to take reimbursement for meals and meetings, questioned whether the city would get anything tangible out of council members heading to annual realtor meetings. Matthes goes so far as to pay for his breakfast during city finance meetings, when others take the stipend.

“What are we getting out of it?” he asked. “I truly don’t think that’s a public use.”

Council member John Clauson said that just because an item was approved on the list, didn’t mean the city council was mandated to attend. He preferred seeing an item on the list, so if necessary and pertaining to city business, he could decide to go.

Clauson, who chairs city finance breakfast meetings in a restaurant and pays the tab with city funds, urged discretion in choosing what meetings council members attended when the money comes from public funds.

“Mr. Martin is right,” he said. “We do have to answer to the public.”

 

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