Grand County delays expense policy again
The Grand County Board of Commissioners’ adoption of a revised expense and reimbursement policy has been delayed after commissioners found wording in a draft ambiguous.
Commissioners specifically took issue with a part of the policy that states employees must receive prior approval from department heads before incurring meal expenses.
The board delayed the policy’s approval last week to seek input from the county’s auditor McMahan and Associates LLC.
The language in question was added at the request of the auditor, said Ed Moyer, assistant county manager.
“I think that’s already happening internally,” Moyer said, adding that department heads who approved travel are at the same time tacitly approving meal expenses.
But County Attorney Anthony “Jack” DiCola said he read the policy to require a separate approval for meal expenses.
“If you say to Lurline, ‘I’m going to a meeting in Boulder, and can I get something to eat?,’ That’s what that now says,” DiCola said. “You’d have to ask two questions.”
The board decided to consult with the county’s auditor again to clarify the language.
Grand County’s current expense and reimbursement policy came under fire after the group Citizens for Transparency in Grand County Government accused a commissioner of charging both Grand County and another entity for the same mileage.
Additional allegations arose that Commissioner James Newberry charged the county more than $1,500 for mileage he’d already been reimbursed for or did not drive.
Newberry was charged with official misconduct, a class two misdemeanor, in the first instance. Newberry has not been charged in the second instance, though he did issue a public apology after inaccuracies in his reimbursement forms were brought to light.
A draft of the new policy seems to address many of the issues brought up in allegations against Newberry, namely prohibiting employees and officials from seeking reimbursements from both the county and another entity for the same mileage.
Employees and officials will not be allowed to charge mileage from their homes, according to the draft.
The paucity of itemized receipts in requests for reimbursement, also a major focal point of the citizens’ group, is addressed in the new policy.
Employees and officials are required to include itemized receipts when seeking reimbursements. The new practice will ensure taxpayers don’t foot non-reimbursable expenses like alcoholic beverages and excessive tips.
The new draft doesn’t address the issue of monitoring mileage for county commissioners.
At a recent meeting, officials agreed that having the county manager approve the commissioners’ mileage is an inadequate system.
One suggestion was that commissioners approve each other’s mileage.
The board will reconsider the policy at its June 23 meeting.
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