An interesting thing happened with the election of a new chairman for the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners this year. A previously planned discussion on how commissioners are allowed to spend tax dollars on travel now appears off the table.
The former chair, Woody White, told us he would bring it up once a new, full board was seated. And the two newest commissioners, Skip Watkins and Rob Zapple, both said during the campaign that commissioners should follow the same rules for travel as other county employees.
But the new chair of the board, Jonathan Barfield, says a travel policy isn't in the cards and there are no plans to talk about it.
The county's finance department prepared a new policy for discussion that would clarify what is being purchased by requiring itemized receipts. For obvious reasons, most businesses require itemized receipts and our government officials shouldn't be treated differently.
But Barfield, who incidentally, spends the most of all the commissioners on travel, won't even discuss it. He says that the Finance Director works for the commissioners and that person doesn't set policy for the commissioners, they do.
But who does Barfield work for? That's right…the taxpayers. And they're telling us they want this policy changed.
That's my turn. Now it's your turn. To comment on this segment, or anything else, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright 2015 WECT. All rights reserved.
Emailed comments from viewers:
New Hanover County is becoming unaffordable to many of us......Accountability is needed! Thank you for taking on these issues, you are my hero!
White & Barfield should both,as all civil servants have to answer to the public on this topic.
Someone more verse than I,should start a "petition"or some media process to follow up on this.
All of them,as you keep the public involved & thinking on many important local issues!
If Chairman Barfield believes the policy is correct let him be a real leader & bring it forth for discussion. To do otherwise allows him to believe that he is above majority rule & management. A sad example for others.
Seems Mr. Barfield doesn't want anyone to oversee the way spends the taxpayers Money. I would be curious to Know if The taxpayers money he so eagerly spends on those big Charity event might end up on his income tax as his charitable deduction.
Someone, WECT or the newspaper or both need to put the heat on them and keep it there until a new policy is in place that satisfies the taxpayers.
After the resignation of the CFCC president I hope WECT stays on the top of NHC commissioners and Mr Barfield. The cost of their snacks still amuses me. Maybe a Happy Meal would be cheaper? Better yet why can't they be responsible for their own just like every other employee would be who comes to work. Also it still doesn't set right with me that Mr Barfield would attend a charity function and ask the county to pay his way then he possible use this as a tax deduction.
If he doesn't want to entertain this change in county policy then maybe someone else should be chairman?????
We paid for Jonathan Bardfield's campaign for Senate why not pay for everything else he does?
Dear Commissioner Barfield:
This letter is a result of Gary McNair's "Your Turn" broadcast on January 22,2015, in which he reports that you have put travel spending by the commissioners off the table for discussion and policy enactment.
Although I don't want my commissioners to stay at a Motel 6, for example, I think there should be clear limits as to how much travel expenses you can entail, as well as justification for this travel. Eating at a restaurant such as a Ruth's Chris strikes me as beyond the pale while conducting county business.
If you're curious as to why so many elected officials are scorned by voters and taxpayers, I invite you to look in the mirror. I am deeply ashamed of your imperial attitude.
If you don't agree with Mr. McNair's comments, please appear on his segment and refute his findings.
Thanks for your email. I understand your concerns and I would love for WECT to air all of my interviews in totality so that the viewers could see total true content of the conversations. If that were to happen you would have a totally different view. I find it amazing that every story is pointed at me. I happen to serve on 3 steering committees for the NC Assn of County Commissioners, Tax and Finance, Justice and Public Safety and General government along with serving on the National Assn of County Counties Transportation Steering committee. In 2012 I was given a one year appointment to the NC Assn of County Commissioners State Board of Directors to chair our then President's initiative which was a Mentoring Task Force, because in 2011 I was the first county commissioner in the state to reach the top level in the UNC School of Governments Local Elected Leaders Academy, the level was that of Mentor.
As you can see there is more back ground than is being reported. With that being said, my first profession is that of being the Assistant Pastor of New Beginning Christian Church. My daily prayer is that at all times The Lord would keep me meek and humble.
I'd invite you to get to know me Jonathan Barfield, not by what by others say but by your own personal experience. My cell phone is below. Call me anytime and we can get a cup of coffee, on me.
Take care and may The Lord richly bless you.
Jonathan Barfield, Jr.
The Chairman does not have the authority to decline something being placed on an agenda. I have instructed our staff to put this on an upcoming agenda as soon as possible so the full board can discuss it in public. Time will tell what happens but I want to thank you for taking the time to email and express your opinions.
your point of accountability for the spending of public monies by those allowed to serve the people is well taken.not only should commissioner spending of money be held to the standard of everyone else;these who have been entrusted to serve the best interest of those who elected them should and must be held to a much higher standard.it is a usual thing that when officials are doing the right and ethical thing,there should be no problem with open oversight and guidance.....
I have to comment on this segment and I hope that it is continually talked about until someone does something about it! We have another commissioner to thank for this mess (Beth Dawson). If not for her Jonathan Barfield would not be in his position. If he (Barfield) can't talk about it when he is spending our taxpayers dollars then we need to get someone in that seat that can talk about it. He has let a little Chairman position go to his head and it's time that someone took him down a few notches.
How interesting let's dig a little deeper. As a retired New Hanover County Employee, I remember very well back in 2007,2008 era the County Commissioners made county employees take " furlough " days . That was because the county had a shortfall of revenue. Barfield was on the board then. Being in the 911 center we could not close like the tax office or other non emergency operations. So what they tried was one person on a squad pick a day to furlough, but someone else had to come in and work overtime to cover, that soon stopped. The county realized it was costing more money to have someone come in to cover paying overtime than to leave us be. So the next idea was to cut our pay which they did across the board to equal these furlough days. When I retired in 2011,
salaries at that time had never been adjusted back up and if they had give a pay raise- it would just be bringing back to where were were at the start.
Yes the County Does have a travel policy and Everyone should be held accountable to it - if not you are no better than the former head of Cape Fear Tech. ripping off the public tax dollars - in other words a