Sun-Sentinel by Brittany Wallman
November 28, 2017
The city of Wilton Manors just made it a little more difficult for taxpayers to find out whose travel they’re paying for.
Under a policy change approved unanimously Tuesday night, more travel will be given the nod behind the scenes by the city manager, and won’t be publicly aired at City Commission meetings. At the same meeting, city commissioners increased the daily stipend for breakfast, lunch and dinner when they’re away on city business.
Mayor Gary Resnick said the changes were recommended by city staff. Trips that aren’t already budgeted, and with a tab up to $1,500, will no longer need City Commission approval.
The city travel budget isn’t large — at $18,000, it’s less than 1 percent of the total budget. But sometimes, small expenses can morph into bigger controversies.
When Commissioner Julie Carson traveled to Arizona earlier this year for a cities and towns conference at a public cost of $1,069, her trip was questioned because the conference was near where her brother lives. Mayor Gary Resnick voted against having the city pay for her trip. Carson acknowledged she planned to pay her brother a visit, but said it was her first publicly funded travel in eight years in office.
Likewise, Carson has questioned trips made by Resnick, including two trips to Washington, D.C., at $1,700 each to participate in a Federal Communications Commission intergovernmental advisory committee. Carson noted that Resnick, as an attorney with Gray Robinson law firm, specializes in part in “communications, cable and broadband law,” according to his website, and could benefit from the trip. But city commissioners signed off on the travel, which officially is deemed to serve a public purpose.
Tuesday night, Resnick said he’s no longer on the committee and will substitute that travel for something else.