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Work group proposes new work travel policies for Baltimore City elected officials

baltimore city money
Posted at 12:04 PM, May 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-19 12:04:35-04

BALTIMORE — A work group formed by Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott released its recommendations on how city elected officials should go about traveling in their work capacity.

The review was conducted after the city's Inspector General found that State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby had on multiple occasions taken work trips without approval from the Board of Estimates.

At question is a clause in the city Administrative Manual that reads in part;

"Travel that costs more than $800, as well as any travel outside of the continental United States regardless of source of funds or cost of trip, must be approved by the BOE. Additionally, BOE approval is required if the official’s absence exceeds five workdays or involves one or both weekend days."

Inspector General Isabel Mercedes Cumming concluded that Mosby took at least 15 such trips.

Mosby's attorneys argued the rule only applied if their client was requesting the city to pay or reimburse her for the trips.

At the time, City Solicitor Jim Shea issued a written opinion on the matter, which seemed to raise more questions than answers.

Shea said there was nothing in the City Charter or Codes saying approval is or isn't required before an elected official travels for a non-city funded trip.

RELATED: Baltimore Mayor taps group to review travel policies for elected officials, amid Mosby fallout

That led the Mayor to impanel a 90-day work group made up of the City Administrator, City Solicitor, Director of Human Resources, and Director of Finance, to look over the policies.

They were tasked with clarifying the approval process for elected official travel, the procedure for trips that do not require public dollars, and the definition of time off for elected officials who are not on a full-time schedule per the City Charter.

Ultimately, the panel proposed mandating all travel valued at more than $100 to be approved by the Board of Estimates, regardless of whether the trip is entirely paid for or in part by third parties.

Other recommendations include requiring public officials to disclose where they are going, the purpose and cost of the trip, and who is paying for it.

Additionally, the group suggested any trip lasting longer than a week be approved.

“The recommended procedures for travel by public officials bring clarity to the rules and emphasize the importance of transparency,” Shea said regarding the proposals.

The proposed guidelines, which would revise language in the City’s administrative manual, will be considered by the Board of Estimates at an upcoming meeting.

Read all the recommendations below.