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Sager's expenses well below amount allowed

April 01, 1997

By JULIE E. GREENE

Staff Writer

Hagerstown Mayor Steven T. Sager likes to chow down on hamburgers, and the city has the receipts to prove it.

When the mayor heads out of town on city business, most frequently to Annapolis, he stops by Burger King or McDonald's for a Whopper or a Quarter Pounder with cheese.

Over the past four years, Sager spent $4,477 on lodging and meals. He also spent taxpayer dollars to rent a tuxedo for a Civil War-related event, and to purchase an answering machine.

From July 1, 1993, to March 27, 1997, Sager has spent $6,884 of city taxpayers' money on lodging, meals, conference and seminar fees, tolls, parking and reimbursements for using his 1978 Volkswagen van for city business, according to the city's finance department.

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The mayor, who receives a $24,000 annual salary, is authorized to spend up to $3,000 a year on expenses related to city business, said Ray Foltz, the city's accounting department supervisor.

He expenses over four years came to just over half of the amount he is allowed to spend.

The candidate elected to the mayor's post in the May election will receive a $28,000 annual salary.

Sager said his appetite for burgers has a lot to do with his busy schedule.

"It's essentially your typical fast-food syndrome," of grabbing a burger on the go, he said.

The city's elected officials can list expenses of up to $10 per breakfast, up to $15 per lunch and up to $25 per dinner, said City Finance Director Al Martin.

Most of the expenses incurred by Sager during the period were for lodging and meals for various meetings and conferences.

Sager spent $4,477 on lodging and meals, including those associated with Maryland Municipal League conferences in Ocean City, Md., Chamber of Commerce dinners and economic development trips.

He spent $268 to stay at Le Parker Meridien in New York City on May 18-19, 1994, to help developers seek backers for the 1st Urban Fiber paper recycling plant, according to Sager's expense report.

The project's developers paid for airplane tickets from New York to Boston and back to Washington, D.C., Sager said.

Sager and his family usually stay in an Ocean City condo during the Municipal League conferences. He didn't attend last year's conference, but in June 1995, the Sager family stayed at a Quay condo for eight days. Sager was reimbursed $536, his share of the lodging for the four days he attended the conference.

Among Sager's expenses were:

  • $107 for coffee and Danish pastries from Round the Square for participants in a tourism roundtable on Nov. 13, 1996. Attendees included state legislators, the Washington County Commissioners and the state's tourism director.
  • $74 to rent a tuxedo for a Civil War-related event in September 1995 and $50 to rent a costume for a Civil War Ball in October 1994.
  • $35 in August 1995 for a new answering machine for his 809 Dewey Ave. home. Sager said he bought the machine to take constituent calls and messages after his old machine wore out.


Sager said he often makes phone calls related to city business from his home, but doesn't ask to be reimbursed for those calls.

  • $30 to rent a cotton candy machine in August 1995 for an employee picnic.
  • $8.38 for one double Quarter Pounder with cheese meal, one grilled chicken meal with no mayonnaise and two medium Cokes from the McDonald's in New Market, Md. The Feb. 4, 1997, lunch was shared with Hagerstown Police Capt. Robert Hart, who had the chicken meal. The two went to Annapolis to lobby against slot machines.
  • $123 for costs related to a tribute in Baltimore commemorating Maestro Barry Tuckwell's last public performances on the French horn. Sager was reimbursed $31.50 for his Jan. 24 orchestra seat ticket, although he and his wife missed the Friday night concert because of an ice storm, he said.


The other expenses for the tribute were for a Jan. 25 luncheon he attended in Tuckwell's honor, along with mileage and parking.

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