Commission increases travel budget by $30,000

AUGUSTA, Georgia (WJBF) – The Augusta commissioners get to work with their travel budget.

Approve an increase of $30,000 to cover the cost of sending members to an additional national conference.

“There’s another big conference there that we can go to and where we can learn where we can mingle with people. So I wanted that option,” Pro-Tem Mayor Bobby Williams said.

But Commissioner John Clarke was not for that option, saying the budget already includes three out-of-town conferences.

“I think we have that fixed with two states and one national, I don’t think we need the remaining $3,000,” Clarke said.

But supporters who point out that national conferences are not committee vacations.

“When we go on a trip, it’s not to gamble, it’s not to go to the beach, it’s not to go to the casino, we’re actually going to work,” Commissioner Jordan Johnson said.

Commissioners Clarke and McKnight moved a superseding motion to refuse the raise even though McKnight backed the raise last week in committee.

“A lot of changes in a week, it’s because when I spoke to my constituents I understood that it was not something they were happy with and if they are not happy, I am not not happy,” Commissioner McKnight said.

The change of heart made Mayor Pro-Tem Williams unhappy, but the motion to increase the travel budget went from 7 to 3, with McKnight, Clarke and Dennis Williams against.

“You have commissioners who don’t travel, you have commissioners who travel, so there will be money left over, we won’t use it all up,” Mayor Pro-Tem Williams said.

But the trip money is there now, needed or not, because the $30,000 isn’t part of the 2022 budget, the commissioners will take money from the provident account to cover the costs.