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Supervisor opposes county employee travel

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Aug. 7, 2001
A request for two county employees to attend a heavy equipment show in Philadelphia, Penn., drew criticism Monday from District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell.
Supervisors approved the trip 4-1.
But Boswell, who voted against the trip, said he sees no point in employees attending the show. He also expressed concern that county engineer Neal Carson didn't know how much the trip will cost.
Carson asked supervisors at their Monday meeting to allow two of his employees to attend the show. While Carson doesn't know the cost, he said governmental bodies get inexpensive airfare.
Travel expenses for Lauderdale County employees have become a hot topic among supervisors. The issue is expected to come under close scrutiny when supervisors begin writing their 2002 budget next week.
Supervisors must approve a budget before the fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
According to information the county supplied last month, Lauderdale County employees and officials took 50 trips from Oct. 1, 2000, to June 30, 2001, at a cost of $44,764 out of the $110,736 budgeted for travel this past year.
Board President Jimmie Smith appointed a committee to examine travel expenses. Boswell and District 1 Supervisor Hank Florey are monitoring travel requests with County Administrator Rex Hiatt.
Florey said the committee "will be placing travel expenses under close scrutiny" as they develop the county's upcoming 2002 budget. He said the committee has met once and will be holding several meetings in the future.
Smith said at times, it "might appear" supervisors shouldn't send everybody on trips, but all the employees "have a job to do and a duty to perform." Supervisors, he said, must make sure employees are educated to do the best job they can for taxpayers.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call her at 693-1551, ext. 3275, or e-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.
The Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors took the following actions on Monday:
They voted 4-1 to pay a special prosecutor in a Lauderdale County Justice Court case styled State of Mississippi v. Michael J. Fuller.
Prosecutors who would have handled the case had conflicts, so supervisors approved a special prosecutor.
District 5 Supervisor Ray Boswell voted no. He said he thinks it will "set a precedent" and he fears "we'll be doing a good bit of this" in the future.
They approved upgrading a parking area used by West Lauderdale school and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
County Engineer Neal Carson said fencing for the area would cost about $1,500 and gravel would cost about $1,000.
People using the Richard May ball field would use the area. Money to upgrade it would come from the county's budgeted recreation funds.

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