At the start of the budget season this year, travel allowances came up—again—as a sticking point, both for the Durham school board and county commissioners. We published a short "Because We're Curious" story May 27 detailing some of the commissioners' expenditures.
Commissioners each get $4,000 for training-related travel (this is separate from a monthly sum of $250 they receive for local travel). In April, Commissioner Brenda Howerton had spent her allowance, but Commissioner Joe Bowser stepped in and let Howerton have $1,000 of the allowance that he wasn't using.
According to May's report, Bowser stepped up to help again, giving Howerton another $375 so she could fly to Reno, Nev., for a conference of the National Association of Counties. (The actual conference takes place in July, in the start of a new fiscal year, but the fees and plane ticket were paid for during this fiscal year, so they count against Howerton's total travel allowance. She has now spent $5,375.04 on training-related travel.)
Commissioners won't have as much flexibility next year, as County Manager Mike Ruffin has proposed cutting their travel allowances to $3,500 each.