BALTIMORE (WMAR) — The Baltimore City Inspector General has cleared two high level employees on allegations of wasteful out-of-town travel spending.
A complaint was filed with the IG following a July 24 article published by the Baltimore Brew which alleged that Tonya Miller and Courtney Weinstock had requested $1,805.74 in travel reimbursement at a Board of Estimates meeting following a work trip to Austin Texas.
Miller is the Mayor's Office Executive Director of Cable and Communications and Weinstock is the Special Events and Permits Division Chief for the Department of Recreation and Parks.
The trip in question was one to the Texas for the South by Southwest Conference, also known as SXSW.
Miller and Weinstock both went to recruit potential sponsors and scout talent for future Baltimore AFRAM Festivals.
The IG found that each received a budget of over $4,000.00 from the City Board of Estimates for the trip which was originally scheduled for March 8 through 14.
In the complaint, it was alleged that Miller and Weinstock had spent 10 days including two weekends at the conference.
But according to the IG report, a month before the conference, Miller found out the music portion of the festival didn't begin until March 11.
After getting permission from the Deputy Comptroller, Miller changed flight and hotel reservations to March 11 to March 17 at no cost. The IG says flight records corroborate those dates.
When they got to Texas, Miller and Weinstock reportedly told the IG that hotels in Downtown Austin were out of the City's budget, so they booked two rooms at the Lakeway Resort and Spa 20 miles away.
Later, the two decided that Lakeway was unsafe and too far a commute, causing them to miss portions of the festival.
Four days into the stay on March 13, Miller and Weinstock canceled their rooms at Lakeway and with approval from the Deputy Comptroller and Mayor's Chief of Staff instead booked one room at the Marriott in downtown Austin.
Miller was told that she could be reimbursed after submitting the changes to the BOE. On July 24 the board approved.
The complaint however alleged that Miller's request was more than her approved budget. The IG found that to not be true, and actually concluded that the City only payed $865.91 of the over $3000.00 in hotel costs.
Miller ended up paying over $2,200.00 combined out of pocket for Lakeway and the Marriott while Weinstock paid $334.16 of her own money for a rental car, which they returned upon switching to the Marriott.
The IG concluded the total cost of the trip came in under budget at $7,459.60 and the City only payed $4,906.65 of that thanks to the two women's personal contributions.
Neither woman ended up being reimbursed as of the report's release date, but even if they were, the IG says the City still would have saved $924.72.