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Show Me The Money – Schafer Wants Paper Trail

Posted on Wednesday, September 6, 2023 at 2:18 pm

Commissioners and the public unite at the Marion County Commissioner meeting on July 24 in favor of a new requirement for officials of the county traveling on business using taxpayer funds.

During the meeting Commissioner Paul Schafer reflected that he had, in his words, recently been “called out” for his traveling for a conference and was glad that it happened. The conference was to educate officials on limitations in their roles and allows them to stay updated on law changes. Schafer further justified the reason for his motion to advocate for equality amongst officials in the form of an expenditure report.

The discussion that followed clarified several points, particularly in differentiating the new motion from an existing rule. Commissioner Steven Franklin inquired as to when the budget would be reflected regarding travel expenses, whether before the trip or after it. Commissioner Logan Campbell proposed that the agenda could reflect the official’s finalized bills after the travel concludes. Marion County Attorney, William L. Gouger Jr., referenced the existence of a similar rule that currently exists but Schafer specified that it was not currently required to be reflected on the agenda. The guidelines already require officials to report their use of taxpayer funds, but the specific details of the official’s name, dates of travel, and expenses are not included in the commissioner agenda.

In an interview, Schafer shared his concerns that traveling on the current allocations is difficult to manage and expressed his personal reasons for abstaining from using taxpayer dollars to fund his business traveling. Lodging and food are inherent necessities and as such, Schafer believes his own money and rewards points should be used to cover them where possible. He also pointed out that his name and expenses were made public, while another officials, who were at the same conference, details were not made public. Consequently, this motion lobbies for equal treatment of all officials. He emphasized that while he personally does not charge everything to taxpayers, he believes it is imperative to maintaining transparency and equality for the record to reflect all expenses and payments made by officials.

The audience responded with murmurs of acceptance and encouragement. Schafer finalized his motion that the record show for all officials traveling on business their name, dates traveled, and full receipts of costs and items purchased following the dates of travel. A unanimous endorsement solidified this motion going forward for all officials regardless of rank.