Salisbury City Council approves new travel policy for elected officials – Salisbury Post

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Salisbury City Council approves new travel policy for elected officials

Published 12:05 am Friday, August 11, 2023

SALISBURY — At their last meeting on Aug. 1, the Salisbury City Council approved of a new travel policy that will differ slightly from their previous one. A few years ago, city staff was asked “to develop a policy particular to council” rather than continue with the standard state policy. COVID had delayed this request until now.

“I know it’s been one of our goals for a long time,” Mayor Karen Alexander said. “Having one in place I think is really important.”

Administrative Services Director Kelly Baker presented to council the main takeaways to the new policy. During the pre-budget process, a fixed amount of funds is set aside to pay for city council’s travel expenses. This includes airfare, hotels, gas mileage and food. Instead of having all the funds in “one bucket” as Baker describes, council members will now have a portion of it distributed to them. For this fiscal year, $11,500 of the overall city budget are for those costs. According to the updated policy, Alexander will receive 50 percent of the total budget and each council member will get 12.5 percent. The city manager and city attorney would not fall into this policy because their expenses come from a separate fund.

The policy takes into account that each council member may require different traveling demands and how a more fluid approach on spending the money is necessary. Alexander will be able to transfer her funds to other council members and council can do the same amongst themselves. Over the past few years, the mayor’s travel was covered by the North Carolina League of Municipalities since she was on their executive board. Alexander has been re-appointed back to the board, so they will pay for some of her expenses going forward. This will allow council members access to her portion of the budget if they need to.

One of the other changes made to the policy is for council members to formally disclose with everyone if they plan to visit a conference, seminar or municipality. If another member has any issues with what someone else has planned, they will have an opportunity to share their concerns. “It keeps everybody on the same page that they all know what each other are doing in a matter of transparency,” Baker said.

Now that the policy has been implemented, Baker said council can still make any additional modifications to it that they see fit. Baker mentioned that only half of last year’s $11,000 travel budget was used.

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