Commissioners make changes in allotment spending
Starting with this new fiscal year, there will be changes coming to the way the Charles County Board of Commissioners spend their money.
Every fiscal year, the board of commissioners has an allotment of $7,800, per commissioner, that they can spend on community projects, meetings and conferences, and mileage reimbursement.
In the last fiscal year, the commissioners were each allowed to spend $4,600 of that money on meeting and conferences, $2,200 on mileage and $1,000 on community projects.
But County Commissioner Amanda Stewart (D) said there is not enough money slotted for community projects, which affect people the most.
“Based on my role as a commissioner, really giving back to the community and having the additional money in projects would be beneficial to me,” Stewart said.
Rather than having just $1,000 for projects the commissioners will have $3,000 in projects, $3,600 for conferences and meetings, and just $1,200 in mileage.
Stewart made the motion that passed 3-2 with Commissioners’ Vice President Debra Davis (D) and County Commissioner Bobby Rucci (D) being the votes of dissent.
Previously, the board passed a piece of legislation that allowed for them to pull from the county’s community promotions budget for projects specific for the entirety of the county and not just one district, but for sole district projects, Stewart said, there needs to be more money available.
Davis said she understands and “commends” Stewart’s need for more funding with community projects. However, she said, Stewart’s way of governing should not be “imposed” on her fellow commissioners.
But Davis, who serves as chairwoman on the executive board for the Tri-County Council of Southern Maryland, said she needs the funding in mileage more than anything else.
“I serve on a statewide board, two regional boards. So mileage is important to me. Being reimbursed for mileage is important to me,” Davis said. “My district might be the largest in area I have to cover.”
Davis said treating everyone the same is not “nec- essarily” the same thing as treating everyone fairly. Personally, she said, she likes to do more things in her community and needs the mileage to travel.
The commissioners should not be imposing their own governing philosophies on each other, Davis said, and the way they spend $7,800 should be included in that.
“I really think we should have the autonomy to change these as necessary,” Davis said. “I do know my situation is different and my philosophy on governing and how I interact with the community should not be limited on someone else’s view on how I should do that.”
Commissioners are voted “at-large,” Stewart said, and are elected to serve the entire county. She said the argument of traveling throughout districts making mileage funds more necessary is not something she can support.
Stewart said she understands Davis travels a lot and serves on boards, but that is something all of the commissioners do.
“We all serve on boards. We all have meetings to go to inside and out of the county. We represent a district and I do recognize that,” Stewart said. “But as you know, we go to events all across the county.”