Rules committee reviews travel policy of city council - - Jackson, MS

Rules committee reviews travel policy of city council

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JACKSON, MS (WLBT) –  Travel expenses of Jackson city council members have recently come into question following a probe of out of town trips made by Councilman Kenneth Stokes.

Monday the rules committee took a look at the city's travel policy.

Supporters of Ward Three Councilman Kenneth Stokes stood outside The Clarion-Ledger newspaper offices Monday trying to collect signatures for a petition calling for the resignation of the Executive Editor Ronnie Agnew.

Hours later the city council's rules committee reviewed the body's 1991 travel order.

The meeting was prompted by the newspaper's probe into Stokes' travel and reimbursement for trips to Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Stokes did not attend the meeting where four members examined the current travel order that only addresses the council and city clerk.

The council has a combined travel budget of $35,000 with no specific amount set for each ward.

"I think the committee needs to look at city wide travel not just city council travel. I don't know what the city wide travel budget is. If I had to guess it's probably considerably more than the city travel budget," said Rules Committee Chairman Jeff Weill.

The travel order was established in 1991.

Council members said it was designed to comply with state auditor guidelines and is still applicable.

Council President Frank Bluntson, who is required to approve travel reimbursement, said some additions to the current policy should be made.

"People brought travel things back to me two and three months after a person had been somewhere and has come back and I signed off on them because I thought that was a matter of protocol to sign off on them as president but then I was told from the legal department that no you're supposed to sign off on it and now I know and I think this should be made a part of it," said Bluntson.

City leaders also discussed including language that would require reimbursement of expenses after returning from the trip, as well a report to the council on what was discussed during the meeting or conference.

Rules Committee Chairman Weill asked that a citywide travel policy be placed on the next agenda.

Councilman Stokes was contacted after the rules committee meeting and said he will reserve comment until he sees what is being proposed.

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