Some commissioners overspend their accounts - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Some commissioners overspend their accounts

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August 19, 2005

Albany - Albany's Mayor and some of the city commissioners have taken a "spend it all" attitude with taxpayer money. We've learned that money they don't use in their travel and expense accounts isn't given back to the city; instead, it's given away.

And there are other commissioners who are over-spending their travel and expense accounts. That raises the question, are our city leaders spending taxpayers money unwisely?

Albany commissioners get $7,500 a year to spend on expenses related to city business. The Mayor get $10,000 annually. As a July 1st, 11-months of last fiscal year, Commissioners Arthur Williams, Tommy Postell and Bo Dorough had overspent. Mayor Williams Adams had just $1.87 left in his account.

The Mayor and Commissioner Dorough say the city clerk mistakenly told them they had more money in their accounts than they actually did. Perhaps the biggest surprise -- rather than return the unspent money to city coffers, some of them decided to give it to charity.

"I was told I had an excess of $700 left," said Mayor Adams. "So in an attempt to serve to the Salvation Army and the Boys and Girls Club, I instructed them to give 'X' number of dollars to each organization."

Commissioner Dorough gave the Parks at Chehaw $4,800.

"Then later on they found out they had oops made an error so now you've overspent," the Mayor said.

The mistake made Dorough exceeded his limit by $34 and put the Mayor close to his limit. Tommie Postell overspent $15.

The top spender - Commissioner Arthur Williams. He exceeded his limit by more than $2,200. Within three months, Williams attended three conferences - two hosted by the National League of Cities. He racked up a bill of more than $6,000.

Travel to conferences is typically the most costly expense for city leaders. Commissioner Bob Langstaff, who only spent $911, says most conferences aren't very educational and he'd would rather the money be kept within the city's coffers. But, the Mayor disagrees.

"Some commissioners think it looks good if they don't spend a penny and it comes back, but then they are cutting themselves short as to being educated and bringing new ideas to the City by not going to conferences," said Adams.

Commissioner Langstaff said, "The best way to police commissioner spending is at the polls. If you don't think your commissioner is being a good steward of taxpayers money, vote him out of office." An office that for now provides tax money to elected officials, some of whom are spending just for the sake of spending.

We tried to ask Arthur Williams why he'd overspent more than $2,200, but he didn't return our calls.

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