Thursday, May 19, 2011

School Board to look at travel fund

Apparently Knox County School Board Chairwoman Indya Kincannon didn't forget.

Credit to good memory. Because I pretty much did.

So, I'm going to eat my slice of humble pie. Probably have some bacon with it. Cause, you know, bacon is awesome and it goes with everything. Ice cream included.

Anyhoo, yesterday I posted a note about whether the school board would address its travel allowance. I was actually more curious to find out if something I posted here would get back to the board. Wouldn't you know it. Indya checked out the site and called me a few hours later.

All of this dates back to a story I wrote about how much coin the county pays for gas. County Mayor Tim Burchett, when he was sworn into office, cut travel allowances for almost every employee under the executive branch purview. In his proposed budget he cut it for the county commission, and it appears that members will go along with the proposal. At least that's what six of them told me. And six is the magic number on a board of 11. (I think some elected officials forget that from time to time.)

So, awhile back, Indya told me that if the commission cut its allowance, she'd ask the school board to look into it, also. I figured she was just saying that.

She wasn't.

“Not only will we choose to follow what the commission does, we're compelled to,” Kincannon said, referring to the county charter. “If they chose to give themselves a raise, we'd take it (also) whether we wanted it or not. But if they choose to change something, then we'll do the same.”

She said looking into the travel allowance is “a reasonable thing to do and could ultimately save some money.”

She said once the county commission approved the overall budget, which includes school system funding, the board will talk about the allowances, so long as commission does eliminate its own.

“What I would suggest is to keep the amount in the budget and see if the reimbursements are the same or less than – and hopefully not more than - the allowances to see how it matches up next year.”

School board members and commissioners get an extra $300 a month for travel allowances. Most employees under the executive branch now submit reimbursement forms for gas money. They get 51 cents per mile traveled.


Scott said...

I'm not defending travel budgets, but taxpayers and voters need to be careful how hard we push on salaries and business expenses. We want to encourage and monitor responsible spending. That being said, if we strip market-relevant compensation out of government jobs, then you will cause competent leaders and business to stay to stay away from government jobs. You could easily argue the city and county is suffering from this skill/competency gap now. The old adage of "you get what you pay for" will ring true. Why do we not have as many competent teachers as we would like? Because it is more profitable to choose other professions. I'm a die-hard fiscal conservative, but I don't mind paying for competent leadership and skill-sets.

Mike Donila said...

I absolutely agree with you. I'll take it a step further. I don't like it when elected leaders (who have money, i.e the current and last gov.) say they won't take a paycheck. That in it own sets a precendent and opens the doors further.
If that makes sense.