ATLANTA – The Fulton County Board of Commissioners approved Oct. 16 a revised travel and training reimbursement policy for business done inside the county, but Commissioner Liz Hausmann said it should do more.
This revised policy now clearly defines allowable expenses for all Fulton County employees and elected officials. However, it allows unrestricted use of county vehicles for the commissioners’ use within the county with no apparent accountability.
Commissioners will no longer be allowed to charge mileage expenses for travel within Fulton County. However, that may be a moot point since commissioners will still be able to check out county vehicles for travel within Fulton County.
Hausmann said for the sake of consistency that the use of county pool cars be ended as well.
Commissioners voted 4-1 with Hausmann opposed to keep pool cars (Commissioner Tom Lowe and Chairman John Eaves were absent).
Hausmann then requested that the use of pool cars be included in the quarterly reports so that there is full transparency as to the use of these vehicles by commissioners or staff. This proposal, too, was rejected.
The county had introduced a moratorium on business travel expenses while the new travel policy was written.
“The travel policy changes are a good start, but incomplete,” said Hausmann. “It combined a lot of different policies into one more coherent travel policy.
“And I agree wholeheartedly in reducing travel expenses and many others. I disagree with the continued use of pool cars by commissioners, and the lack of reporting of any such use.”
Other problems with the car pool, Hausmann pointed out, included the lack of a budget for the cars’ usage.
“It is unclear just how much this will cost the taxpayers, and what department budget will be affected,” said Hausmann.
Hausmann says she doesn’t understand why her fellow commissioners are unwilling to have the car pool’s usage monitored.
“What is the motive [not to report],” she asked.
Hausmann said overall there were some good things in the new travel policy, not the least of which was having just one overall policy. There is also a county travel card to keep track of expenses and other efficiencies for the approval of travel, she said.
As for the car pool, Hausmann says she does not plan to take advantage of it.
“Why would I drive down to the Sandy Springs Service Center to pick up a car and drive back to North Fulton? I just would like to see some more transparency in the system. That only makes sense,” she said.
The policy is effective immediately, she said.