Lee Commissioners travel budgets
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Jul. 9, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul. 9, 2013
FORT MYERS, Fla. - "You" elected them to spend your money wisely -- but are Lee County Commissioners making good use of your tax dollars when it comes to their own individual office budgets?
One commissioner only uses hand-me down office furniture ... another has a flair for international travel... and that's where we started our investigation.
An email was sent to her office to request an interview... then the next week we went to her office and waited to catch her. She still wouldn't grant an interview then either.
Commissioner Frank Mann is just the opposite.
With the second smallest budget of $8,050.00, he's eager to explain his spending strategy.
Frank Mann says "My philosophy on government is to be as frugal as possible."
Chairman of the Board, Cecil Pendergrass has an even smaller budget. At an even eight thousand dollars...he has a specific reason for the way he spends your money.
Pendregrass says "you know...when were trying to ask the employees and the different departments to buckle down and reduce their budget. I am doing the same thing here in my office." His biggest expense?... traveling all over florida for educational conferences.
Then there's Commissioner John Manning. he's budgeted a little more than $10,000.00 of your tax dollars. but he's proud to point out that he rescued this couch, which the Sheriff threw out.
Like Pendergrass, his biggest expense is traveling for continuing education.
When asked about going on international junkets and if he sees any value in it Manning said "I don't, the staff is more than capable... I've got enough on my plate... thats just my own philosophy."
Someone who is expected to go on international trips, Commissioner Larry Kiker.
He serves as chairman for the Tourist Development Council.
But Kiker felt traveling in this economic climate should be kept to a minimum too.
Larry Kiker stated "What can I do at an international level - here locally- and the best we came up with was Las Vegas."
Commissioner Kiker ended up speaking to 500 international journalists for the worlds fair on travel and recreation. He felt it was the best use of his time.
He added that "you know we struck gold on that one.. we got a lot for our return on our money."
Which takes us back to Commissioner Hall. She booked a flight to the South American country of Chile and went along with Governor Scott's team to bring more trade to Florida.
So what might be gained by such a trip? It turns out Lee County makes up one half of one percent of Florida's international export business.
So there it is... your money... their budgets... you decide who's making the best use of it.