Com­mis­sion­ers make changes in allotment spend­ing

Maryland Independent - - News - By MICHAEL SYKES II msykes@somd­news.com

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.”

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