Proper budgeting needed: County Commission on track to exceed mileage

Published 9:05pm Thursday, July 10, 2014

In most workplaces, employees receive mileage reimbursements for work-related trips, and the Dallas County Commission is no different.

The commission is projected to spend about $15,000 this year in mileage reimbursements, according to its finance documents. In the 2014 fiscal year to date, the commission has spent $10,964.99.

When comparing the amount in mileage reimbursements spent to the amount budgeted, the commission spent 73 percent of its total budgeted allocation, which is a little more than where it should be.

The county’s finance documents end on June 16, which is when the Times-Journal filed a request for the information. The June 16 end date means that documents don’t include mileage for June and the remaining three months until the end of fiscal year 2014 on Sept. 30.

Basically, the commission is on course to overspend its budget by about $1,000, if it continues at its current pace. Not to mention, commissioner Roy Moore hasn’t filed for a single dime of mileage reimbursements. If Moore’s expenses are anything like his counterparts, then the commission would currently be a few thousand dollars away from spending the entire budgeted amount with three months left.

Spending a few thousand more than budgeted wouldn’t be the most egregious error, but all governmental entities should strive to be good stewards of taxpayer money and lay out an accurate plan of how that money will be spent.

In the county’s case, it appears budgets will have to be amended to meet the actual cost of travel, especially if Moore files for any reimbursements.

The county commission should have an allocated travel expense. Dallas County comprises a huge tract of land and thousands of miles of roads. Part of the commission’s job is to ensure roads are in adequate condition. Like most other jobs, commissioners should be reimbursed for work-related travel.

It appears that the Dallas County Commission is spending travel expenditures responsibly, but it could do a better job of predicting those expenditures at the beginning of the fiscal year. A few thousand dollars may not be concerning, but every little penny counts when you’re spending taxpayer money.

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