With another round of high-dollar travel requests before them this week, three Dothan city commissioners stalled rather than rubber-stamping the measure.
District 4 Commissioner John Ferguson, District 5 Commissioner Beth Kenward and District 6 Commissioner Hamp Baxley all voted against the requests, which range from a Fire Apparatus Conference in Pennsylvania at no cost to the city, to a trip to Orange Beach for the Alabama Municipal Court Clerks and Magistrates Association Annual Conference at a total cost of $4,028 for four travelers, the Eagle reported Wednesday.
The travel was approved by a quorum of ayes from the remaining members of the commission and Mayor Mike Schmitz. The hitch wasn’t about any particular request, as all seemed reasonable and routine.
However, the dissenting commissioners deserve commendation for raising questions about the necessity and value of all the travel requested for city workers. It’s possible that some of the training could be done online through web seminars, one commissioner said.
“Sometimes I don’t think we are getting the information we need to have to be able to make an informed decision,” Kenward said.
It’s refreshing to see such diligence among commissioners with regard to the expenditure of public funds, particularly during a time in which the city is facing large bills for infrastructure improvements and commissioners are considering fee hikes to offset those costs.
It may well be that each travel request is worth every nickel. But by requiring more detail and justification of the expense, the commission would show sound fiscal stewardship.