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Two councilmen exceed expense budget

December 30, 1998|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Two Hagerstown City Councilmen spent more than their share of a $5,000 council expense account during the previous fiscal year, according to city finance records.

Alfred Boyer was reimbursed $1,397 and J. Wallace McClure received $1,083 for expenses incurred during fiscal year 1998, the records showed. Fiscal year 1998 ran from July 1, 1997, to June 30, 1998.

Each council member is supposed to be limited to $1,000 in expenses.

City finance officials say they don't mind if a few members go over their individual limits as long as the council's five members don't exceed their combined $5,000 limit, Ray Foltz, the city's accounting department supervisor, said.

The other three council members combined spent less than $800 against their expense accounts during the same period. The total paid out of the City Council's expense account budget was $3,250.

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According to city records, almost all of Boyer's expense account spending - about $1,324 - went to pay for food, lodging and registration fees at Maryland Municipal League events.

Boyer said he was unaware he was overspending at the time. He said in order to avoid going over the limit again this year he will attend fewer Municipal League events.

"They're important to keep us abreast of what's going on in other municipalities," Boyer said. "But I don't like to overspend."

McClure's expense account total was pushed over the limit by a $941 bill for newspaper subscriptions. For three months last year, McClure had city department heads read newspapers from similar sized cities around the country so they could see what kinds of issues were being dealt with elsewhere.

McClure said he charged the newspaper subscriptions to his expense account because it was his idea, even though he saw it as something that would benefit the entire city.

"I thought it was positive and I hope people see it in that light," he said.

McClure said he expects to offset going over his limit last year by spending very little from his expense account this year.

Council members William Breichner, Lewis Metzner and Susan Saum--Wicklein combined spent almost $770 from their expense accounts, records showed. About $700 of that went to food, lodging and registration fees at Maryland Municipal League events.

During the first six months of fiscal year 1999, which began July 1, the council members have spent a combined $118.

The city has not received bills for many of the annual Municipal League conventions and conferences - the most expensive of which is a multiday event held in Ocean City, Md., in June.

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