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Mayor, City Council remove limits on their expense accounts

February 13, 2002

Mayor, City Council remove limits on their expense accounts



By DAN KULIN
dank@herald-mail.com


Hagerstown's Mayor and City Council on Tuesday agreed to eliminate the limits on their own expense accounts.

Under current city law, the mayor has a $3,000 annual expense account, and council members have a $1,000 expense account each.

On Tuesday, the mayor and council decided to instead adopt a policy under which they would need the City Administrator's approval of expenses for which they want to be reimbursed.

To officially get rid of the expense account limits the council will have to vote on the matter, Mayor William M. Breichner said.

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"There are certain things the council should be attending, and we shouldn't be limited to $1,000," he said.

For example, attending the annual summer Maryland Municipal League conference in Ocean City can cost more than $1,000, said Breichner. As a council member two years ago Breichner overspent his expense account at the conference. He was reimbursed $1,160 for hotel, registration and travel expenses from that trip.

The mayor said attending the conference is important for city elected leaders because it gives them a chance to meet state officials and leaders from other municipalities.

"The (expense account limit) is obsolete because you can spend over $1,000 on one conference," he said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he supported eliminating the limits and is sure elected officials' spending will remain in check because the media will continue to scrutinize the spending.

Records of reimbursements to the mayor and council would continue to be available to the public, City Finance Director Al Martin said.

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