Commissioner Jimmie T. Smith’s request for a taxpayer-funded trip to Texas landed with a thud.
Commissioners Ron Kitchen Jr. and Chairman Jeff Kinnard refused to second Smith’s motion that he attend the 46th American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) annual meeting Aug. 14-16 in Austin, Texas.
Smith estimated the cost at $1,235.
“I’m certainly not going to second it,” Kinnard said.
“And neither will I,” Kitchen added.
With Commissioners Brian Coleman and Scott Carnahan absent, Smith’s request died.
The county commission earlier this year created a policy that requires board approval for commissioners to travel out of state on the county’s dime.
While commissioners say the policy is not aimed at Smith, it was his out-of-state travel last year to a pair of ALEC-related events that led the board to require approval beforehand.
Smith said participating in the ALEC meeting gives him the chance to interact with government leaders.
“This is a nationwide organization of policymakers,” he said. “There’s a lot of good things come out of that.”
Kitchen said his support of an out-of-state trip would need to pass at least one of three criteria: required by the board to participate; county membership in the organization; or measurable value for attending.
Kinnard said he appreciated that Smith wanted to continue his education, but questioned whether the Texas meeting was essential for county business.
“The answer,” he said, “is no.”