County mayor’s office spending kept to a minimum

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By Beth Braden

Editor’s Note: In the coming weeks the LaFollette Press will publish a series of stories focused on spending for travel my governmental entities. This is the first in the series.

For the four employees at the Campbell County mayor’s office, trips and perks are kept to a bare minimum to save money in tough economic times.

“We basically just don’t spend anything that we don’t have to spend,” said Deputy Mayor David Young.

One of the ways the office works to save money is through consolidating trips.

“If there’s a trip or two that has to be made to Nashville for whatever reasons, we try to consolidate a trip or two,” Young said. “Sometimes we can accomplish several things instead of making two or three trips.”

Inter-office team-work also helps to keep the mayor’s office running smoothly.

“Ours [travel] here in this office, especially when you’ve got so many details and so many duties, it has to be kind of a team effort,“ he said. “There’s times I couldn’t get done if I didn’t have Billie or Debi here with me and then sometimes I help them like that.”

William Baird

Between June 30, 2011 and Aug. 29, 2012, Baird traveled to Memphis, Sevier County, Gatlinburg, Murfreesboro and to Nashville twice.

Conference registration fees totaled $235, $80 for meals and hotel costs $999.94.

“When you consider motel rooms and all that, it doesn’t take very long to spend one thousand bucks,” said Young.

Debi Mikesell

Young describes Debi Mikesell as “about the busiest person in the world.”

Not only is she Baird’s administrative assistant, she spearheads Toys for Tots each year, and is the local representative for the Tennessee Valley Coalition to End Homelessness. She’s also on the Campbell County Health Council.

Mikesell’s job duties mean she’s often on the road to make presentations in schools for the litter project, and visiting Knoxville for TVCEH meetings. Mileage is her biggest reimbursement category at $896.44 between August 31, 2011 and Oct. 17, 2012. She was reimbursed $102.32 for meals, $125.82 for a hotel stay during an Oct. 2011 workshop, and $61.86 in supplies for health fairs and other meetings. She was reimbursed a total of $1,186.44.

Billie Russell

As the economic and community development director, Russell maintains contact with industry and the arts within the county.

“She’s trying to improve what industry is always here and trying to attract new jobs,” Young said.

On the arts side, Russell works to improve artistic and recreational opportunities in the county.

“[It’s] just things to help improve the community so you’re more attractive to the people looking to locate their industry,” Young said.

Of all employees, records indicate Russell is the one who travels the most.

Between July 14, 2011 and Oct. 19, 2012, she made five trips to Nashville, one trip to Clinton, 16 trips to Knoxville, and various other in-county trips.

Hotel costs totaled $687.49 followed by registration fees at $485, mileage at $1637.61 and miscellaneous reimbursements totaling $77.56. Total money reimbursed was $2,927.66.

David Young

Young serves as the office’s grant-writer and works as the mayor’s representative when Baird must be absent.

“We have a lot of different types of grants to apply for and we’re pretty successful in getting a lot.”

Of all the employees, Young travelled the least between Aug. 2011 and Oct. 20, 2012. He made two trips to Nashville, one trip to Knoxville, and he also attended TDOT training. Two of the trips were for grant-writing workshops. He was reimbursed $36.98 for mileage, $125 for registration, $260 for meals, and $410.28 for hotels for a total of $831.26.

The big picture

Four people traveled, trained and performed their job duties over a span of 16 months for a total of $6309.05. That averages to about $98.58 per person, per month for the extra duties they perform outside the office.

“We’re very conscious about not overdoing it,” Young said.