New spending policy 'not on the radar' for NHC Commissioners

New spending policy 'not on the radar' for NHC Commissioners

WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - For months, WECT has been investigating how New Hanover County Commissioners and the County Manager have been spending the public tax dollars.

Investigations uncovered money spent on pricey dinners, charitable donations and even valet charges.

Woody White, the former chairman of the commission, said the board should consider changing that spending policy. Chris Coudriet, the county manager, said the policy would be looked at.

Reporters were told the finance department had drafted a new policy. However, in an interview at the commissioners' Tuesday agenda briefing, the chairman of the board, Jonathan Barfield, said establishing a new policy wasn't a priority.

"It's not on our radar right now," Barfield said.

According to the county's finance director, Lisa Wurtzbacher, the new policy would make clear what expenses the county will cover, and require more transparency when it comes to commissioners turning in itemized receipts.

Wurtzbacher said the policy was to be discussed at a meeting in January, however, the topic has not appeared on any official agendas for meetings this month.

"The finance director works for the board of commissioners. That person does not set policy for the board of commissioners, we do. At this point in time we're going to continue to govern ourselves accordingly, make sure that we're using the taxpayer's dollars wisely as we go out of town and get all the education that we can so we can make our community the best it can indeed be," said Barfield.

Barfield said he doesn't think the policy needs revision and insists the trips he's taken are good for gathering new information that can be used to better New Hanover County.

"You go where the information is and bring it back to your community to enhance your community. The question is always, what do you want your community to be? Our goal is to create more jobs for New Hanover County and make it a vibrant prosperous community," said Barfield.

WECT previously reported that Barfield had spent the most money of any of the commissioners on travel at one point in time. He reimbursed the county after WECT pointed out that he spent taxpayer money on a golf game.

Commissioner Woody White, who has publicly disagreed with the spending, was not present at Tuesday's agenda briefing to comment.

During their campaigns, newly elected board members Rob Zapple and Skip Watkins also voiced concern over the current spending policy.

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