Wilmington leaders reimburse some taxpayer dollars

Posted by Debra Worley - email

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Four Wilmington city leaders have decided to reimburse the city for some of the money that council members spent during a trip to Washington, DC.

The trip to the nation's capital for a national conference last month cost taxpayers more than $19,000.

Mayor Bill Saffo and council members Ron Sparks, Earl Sheridan, and Kristi Tomey decided to give back some of the money they spent during the conference.

"We all paid for those particular meals to makes sure the community knows, we know their concerns, we know they are upset," said Saffo.  "We are going to take a look at our policy to make sure it is in line with other cities."

Council person Kristi Tomey said she traveled to Washington for the conference with a long time boyfriend, but his meals were not paid for by taxpayers.

"I made sure, doubly sure, that my guest was paid for," said Tomey. "His name is Chris. He didn't come up for the whole trip. He rode in his own car."

Tomey's companion ate two meals with the group.  In one of those meals the restaurant refused to separate the check, so Tomey later reimbursed the city for his portion of the meal.

The mayor said the city has been paying for spouse meals on trips since 2003.  Council members are given a par diem amount of $55 for meals per day while they are away, but Saffo said it may be time to update the travel policy.

City council's audit committee will meet May 4 to discuss a new travel policy.  The public is welcome to attend the meeting.

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