After tonight's council work session, I am in disbelief that members of the Kennesaw city council believe they are so much better than the citizens and so much smarter than the citizens that some council members and mayor can USE the citizens money and credit to obtain credit cards for their personal benefit. This is an outrage. How can we get NO credit cards tied to the charter.
Good question and something, in addition to passing the elimination of elected official retirement and other benefits, I have been pushing for since taking office. There are a lot of cities that do not issue credit cards to eliminate any suspicion of unethical or over-spending. Remember the DeKalb spending problem in 2015? They ended up revoking numerous employee cards.
First, usage of credit cards is not mandated or part of the city Charter. There are State laws regarding usage of credit cards and Kennesaw complies with those laws but has little else to control the spending because of grey wording in the City Charter.
Control and the methodology of elected official spending has been a topic of discussion for years. While all are adults, some have no concept of budgets or spending. Unfortunately, those few spend without council consensus or any thought of whose money they are spending. It looks bad for everyone and without majority support, the council cannot change the charter, guidelines or rules to check elected official spending.
Currently, the dissenting thoughts are focused on some that cannot afford to run for office if they cannot travel or take classes on taxpayer money because they cannot afford to spend their own money up front and get reimbursed. The current elected official travel policy (including credit cards) is a pre-paid program not a reimbursement program. With the grey laws regarding spending, it is almost impossible to control.
Further, some feel they are entitled to get educated and travel on taxpayer dollars. Most, if not all of the educational opportunities needed are local and free. There are no benefits attending galas, conventions or classes outside of the state mandated newly elected officials class.
The city is close to adopting a travel policy that will help the council in creating better control and easing the perceived trauma of card elimination for elected officials. The challenge is going to be getting a majority to understand; (1) their position is an option they decided to campaign for to serve the public ~ not a job, (2) the city is not a school and classes are not mandated but optional and (3) any travel related to classes or other events are not mandated but optional.
Kennesaw currently allows the below for each councilmember. To see more detail on this, go to: https://wiselike.com/kennesaw-councilmember-jim-sebastian/questions/budgets
$1,800 in Education,$2,000 in Travel,$600 for Special Interests, and$200 for Clothing.
You can see the actual 2016 spending for all elected officials at:https://www.facebook.com/elect.sebastian/posts/2183947838497261