Commissioners deny travel reimbursement for former manager
December 1, 2015
The Grand County Board of Commissioners has denied a travel reimbursement for a former county manager to travel to Washington, D.C. to attend a meeting on the Windy Gap Bypass Project.
Lurline Underbrink Curran was hired as a contracted water negotiator after she resigned in September.
Commissioners Jane Tollett and Kris Manguso agreed that what they believed was a pre-approval of Curran's airfare by a single commissioner violated county policy.
Manguso said Curran had emailed her and Commissioner Merrit Linke on Nov. 25 stating that she could get discounted airfare for the trip if she booked before Nov. 26.
Linke said he was okay with the booking, while Manguso expressed opposition, she said.
Curran purchased the tickets, which Manguso said violated Grand County's policy of requiring all out of state travel for which reimbursement will be sought to be approved by the entire board of commissioners.
"This money was spent without authorization, and I made it clear when it first happened that I was not in favor of this," Manguso said. "If we continue to allow our policies not to be followed – the rules not to be followed – we're just going down the same path."
Manguso said concerns about the county budget also pushed her toward denying the travel.
Linke defended his decision, saying the total $873.08 requested was a pittance compared to the benefit that would come from Curran's participation in the meeting.
"This is our best shot to get some funding from the (U.S. Bureau of Reclamation) and for $873 I think you'd be foolish not support this and give it our best shot to get the funding that we need for this," Linke said.
Linke said that the purchase was made "knowing full well" that it may not be approved by the board as a whole, and added that no policy was violated because no county funds were spent.
"I don't believe any policies were violated," he said.
Tollett said that Curran's previous experience as county manager meant she should be aware of the process for approving travel and reimbursements.
"I think we've been through a number of crises in this county over the last year and at this point my concern is we've got to get our house in order, and we can't be having expenditures that aren't approved," Tollet said.
Tollett suggested outlining a travel budget for Curran in the future.