WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- With these tough economic times, people are thinking twice when it comes to spending money, but Wilmington City Councilwoman Laura Padgett has had no problem running up her travel expense tab and even exceeding the limit. Tuesday night City Council voted unanimously to let Padgett dip into some more cash, but one member says it's the first and last time it will happen.
"I'm just telling you I think we have a budget, and we need to try and live within that, and this year I don't have a problem with what Ms. Padgett said, and Mr. Sparks agreed with that, if there is money left over to dip into that, but after this year I would not be in favor of it," said Wilmington City Councilman Charlie Rivenbark. "If you're going to be on these boards and commissions, you need to make other arrangements."
Rivenbark said it is what it is. If you're elected to serve the people, you have to be willing take on responsibilities even if it hits your own personal wallet.
"These are extraordinary times, and I want to recognize that and I'm not asking to do more than other people or to misspend the city's money, and with that in mind I would like to see an amendment to the resolution that says something to the effect that I will spend my own money to finish the commitment I made, but when we get to the end of June, if there is money still in the travel fund that has not been used, I would have first dibs in being reimbursed," Padgett said.
City council members, like Padgett, joined committees to help diversify the city, but now she says it's coming at much too high a cost. In Tuesday's vote, council agreed to let Padgett dip into the city's budget if any money is left in it at the end of the year.
City Manager Sterling Cheatham sees no problem with Tuesday's vote.
"We learn so much when we go out and see how other communities are dealing with the same issues that we're dealing with, and we're able to transport a lot of those back, and we can focus on creating things that are new as opposed to recreating the wheel," he said.
Cheatham said travel is essential to creating a unique and prosperous community. City council is allotted $19,000 dollars for travel expenses. Padgett already reached her allotment for the year.