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Councilman breaks expense limit

colleagues say that's OK

September 05, 2000

Councilman breaks expense limit; colleagues say that's OK



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Hagerstown City Councilman William M. Breichner's city expense account spending last fiscal year was about $300 more than allowed but his fellow council members don't mind.

Breichner spent about $1,340 in the 1999-2000 fiscal year that ended June 30, according to finance records.

Under the city code, council members are limited to $1,000 each in annual expense account spending.

The other four council members each spent less than $25, and two of them had no expense account charges in the 1999-2000 fiscal year, according to city finance records.

Approximately $1,160 of Breichner's expenses covered registration, hotel and travel expenses for a four-night trip to Ocean City for the annual Maryland Municipal League convention. Breichner was the only council member who went to the conference.

The rest of the money paid for Breichner's tickets to several local Municipal League dinners, Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce events and $37 for a city flag for the city ice rink.

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Breichner said he views the expense account as a $5,000 City Council expense account instead of a set amount for each council member. Several of his fellow council members seemed to agree and applauded Breichner for keeping up with Municipal League events.

"If Bill needs an extra $150 of mine that's OK," said Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein, who had no expense account spending last fiscal year.

"I have no concerns with the use of expense account money for MML events," said Saum-Wicklein, adding that she would have gone to the summer conference but it conflicted with other commitments.

"It's a good opportunity to network. ... It's always productive," she said.

"I have no problem at all. I'm glad he went to MML," said Councilman Alfred W. Boyer, who spent $24 from his expense account last fiscal year to attend two Chamber of Commerce events.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said council members should try to stay within their $1,000 limit, but said he had no problem with Breichner's spending because "he went to legitimate events. ... I applaud him for actively representing the city."

McClure had no expense account spending in the 1999-2000 fiscal year.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who spent $12 from his expense account last year to attend one Chamber of Commerce event, said he would defend Breichner's spending on Municipal League events.

"We would have all done the city well if we had gone to the MML conference. It's very positive for staff and elected officials," Metzner said.

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