Citrus County Courthouse -- GAL

County commissioners had little on the agenda for Tuesday.

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.”

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(3) comments

GREGORYN

Kudos to commissioners for preventing citizen funding of the oil-drenched crony capitalist Koch Bros propaganda-tool.

Lourie Schultz

Well done Commissioners, there are plenty of meeting right here in our own state that Mr. Smith can attend to and be more relevant to our region. In addition to the travel expenses he requested, he also would have been on the local payroll clock. I am sure he has plenty of items on his desk that need to be taken care of during these days that would have been spent in Texas. All counties and states are strapped for working capital, we don't need to be trimming the funds that could, and should be going to local projects.

CitrusCo Citizen

In higher education, professors have to be either be presenting a workshop or a research paper in order to get even half of a travel allowance. Often they only get conference fees and maybe lodging but have to pay for their own travel and meals. Smith is not presenting running anything at the conference and so it should all be on his dime. And the $1,250 (or whatever it is) can be spent on assisting needy families of Citrus County (especially the working poor) with basic needs like food, utility bills, medical bills, or transportation to work. Thanks for a wise decision, for a change!

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