• October 24, 2014

Lampasas commissioner debate travel reimbursements

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Posted: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 10:44 am | Updated: 10:52 am, Tue Aug 13, 2013.

LAMPASAS — A plan for the best way to reimburse county officials for business meals and incidentals may have to travel through additional channels before Lampasas County officials reach a final decision.

Although previously discussed at length, travel reimbursements were again on the county commissioners’ agenda Monday and may result in extra paperwork for the county auditor, department heads and employees.

The county imposed a $35 per diem limit last year in order to offset the costs of parking, meals and other expenses, to prevent excess paperwork and to avoid hours of tallying individual receipts, County Auditor Chris Munn said.

“Where I’m beginning to see a potential problem is the per diem,” Precinct 1 Commissioner Robert Vincent said.

“I happen to know places that provide lunch, but they don’t provide breakfast. I think there needs to be a breakdown on that $35, so that lunch is subtracted, because to me, that’s a way of having a little extra money.”

Vincent also objected to employees receiving the reimbursement if they attend a half-day conference or seminar, saying they should not be entitled to the full amount.

Precinct 2 Commissioner Alex Wittenburg said the reimbursement was supposed to take the place of employees having to keep up with and turn in individual receipts. He suggested the county trust employees to be honest about their traveling expenses.

Sheriff David Whitis said the per diem process actually saves the county money.

“My office probably travels more than any other, and per diem has saved my budget, which saves the county money,” Whitis said. “It makes it a lot simpler, in my opinion, not to have to tally individual receipts.

Commissioners tabled the reimbursement issue pending further discussion.

In other business, commissioners approved changes to the county’s personnel policy as presented by Human Resource Director Dorothy Person.

Person outlined changes in the wording regarding the use of county-provided electronic equipment, such as computers, in an effort to prevent employees from making derogatory comments on social media outlets using county equipment while on county time.

“Now that people use social media, it raises questions regarding employees who say something negative about the county or its officials during the regular work day,” Person said.

The group also unanimously supported policy changes that prohibit county employees from engaging in political activity during the work day, and eliminated any campaign activities soliciting votes within 100 feet of county-owned facilities.

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