- Last Updated on Tuesday, 19 March 2013 18:21
- Published on Wednesday, 20 March 2013 00:21
- Hits: 2440
There’s no question about it, Ruby Brabo is just about everywhere – and that everywhere and all the time got the attention of the King George Board of Supervisors at its March 7 budget session when the subject of travel reimbursement for Supervisors got a going-over.
Supervisors have had a total lump sum reimbursement in the budget for $5,000 for several years. It is there to pay expenses for travel to events such as the Virginia Association of Counties meeting in the fall. Traditionally, not all of the supervisors have attended these meetings and some of them, such as Joe Grzeika pay their own way. At least that is what he said at the meeting on March 7. Let’s face it, $5,000 isn’t much in today’s world so it’s valuable to those who choose to go to meetings and ask for reimbursement.
Supervisors paying for their own expenses is a noble effort as travel costs, if reimbursement is requested, could add up. Supervisors are expected to attend regular meetings of many groups to keep up with what is going in other governmental groups which impact the county. These include such groups as the jail board, the regional planning commission, etc.
This year Chairman Dale Sisson has suggested that the $5,000 be split in $1,000 increments among the five members. His reasoning is that Travis Quesenberry, the county manager, should not have to be put in the position of having to make a determination about paying supervisors’ expenses.
While this is a sound reason, board members traditionally first get the board’s permission to attend meetings from the full board, as did Brabo in January when she requested permission to attend the National Association of Counties Legislative Conference in Washington.
With that permission Quesenberry doesn’t have a problem about how to pay travel reimbursement. Could it be that with only $1,000 available for travel reimbursement Brabo would have her wings clipped, just a little?
But hey, don’t we know what is going on here. Ruby is a thorn in the side of the board, always poking and prodding and getting into things some of the others don’t like. Since she was elected, the three vote majority she can usually count on leave Grzeika and Sisson, and frankly many of us in the community, at odds with the direction the county is going.
On the other hand, going to meetings outside the county is a valuable peek into the world outside, and something that brings enrichment not only to Ruby but to the citizens, the Board, and county employees - if they would listen.
Having sat in front of The Journal’s computer for years seeing grants announced for other counties where, apparently King George has not made a bid, is disheartening. One can only wonder if someone had been at a meeting when the grant was announced publicly, if the county might not have been included.
Just on Friday, at the meeting of the Northern Neck Regional Tourism Commission, which met for the first time in King George County, Ruby heard about a grant which might be available to a local non-profit group that would benefit King George County – one which no one in the county would have come across.
And to give LoBuglio a little credit, since supervisors’ own personal accounts should have no bearing on their elected activities, it does make a difference how much of their own money individual members can spend on travel, and that might affect the citizens if supervisors cannot fully participate as expected.
Someone has suggested Ruby should tap into the almost $11,000 available yearly for health insurance for individual supervisors. Right now, Cedell Brooks is the only one who avails himself of this privilege. That $11,000 would be $10,000 more than Sisson is proposing for her next year’s expenses.
If Ruby did that, she could use the money she now spends for her own health insurance to pay for the travel she wants to do. Ruby says she is a full-time supervisor and, while full time is not a requirement of the job, each supervisor gets to perform their job as they see fit. Some of them rarely travel, others find it helpful. She could find the money for the travel she wants to do by letting the county pay for her health insurance. Is that the way the board wants to go?