Travel Costs Exceed Budget

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The budget for travel by Lauderdale County supervisors for Fiscal 2003 was set at $8,700. By Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year, the total spent will be $16,814 or almost double that amount.

Collectively, four supervisors took 21 trips to meetings and conventions such as the Mississippi Association of Supervisors, the National Association of County Officials, the National Shopping Center Convention and the Mississippi Planning and Development District Conference.

Locations ranged from Jackson and Biloxi, to Washington, D.C., Milwaukee and Las Vegas. District 2's Jimmie Smith and District 4's Joe Norwood traveled the most, eight trips each. District 1's Hank Florey made three trips and Craig Hitt of District 3 made two. District 5's Ray Boswell did not attend any out-of-town conventions or meetings.

County administrator Rex Hiatt said nothing was put in the 2003 budget for travel for the late Q.V. Sykes, formerly District 4 supervisor, because of his health. Norwood was elected to Sykes' seat in a special election.

"Mr. Norwood, as a supervisor, is entitled to take trips and went to the board of supervisors meetings as all the board members do when they want to travel and get authorization to attend some meetings and conferences that he felt he needed to attend in order to understand the role of a supervisors and what his job is," said Rex Hiatt, county administrator.

Hiatt said learning is the principle reason any county employee travels.

"Most people, when they travel, do so because they want to learn and better themselves and they feel like it would be of benefit to the citizens and help their position if they do travel to these meetings," said Hiatt.

The board's budget for travel in FY 2004 has been tentatively set at $12,000.