BALTIMORE (WJZ) — The city’s Office of the Inspector General released a report from their investigation into how much money two employees spent on a work trip after a complaint about wasteful spending.
According to Baltimore City’s OIG, two city employees went to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music Festival in Austin, Texas in March to recruit sponsors and scout for musical talent for the AFRAM Festivals. A complaint suggested wasteful spending after the pair retroactive asked for reimbursement of $1,805 at a July 24 Board of Estimates meeting.
OIG investigated the spending of Executive Director of Cable and Communications for the mayor’s office Tonya Miller and Special Events and Permits Division Chief for the city parks Cortney Weinstock during their March trip.
Investigators learned the work trip was approved by Miller and Weinstock’s departments in January and February of 2019. The BOE approved $4,075.20 for Miller, and $4,309.12 for Weinstock for the trip from March 8, 2019 to March 14, 2019. After learning that the music portion didn’t begin until March 11, Miller changed the flight and hotel dates to March 11-17. There was no additional cost accrued and the change was approved by the Deputy Comptroller.
Hotels within Austin’s city limits were out of the budget, so they booked a hotel at the Lakeway Resort and Spa located 20 miles from downtown. They booked two rooms, but after arriving they realized the location wasn’t ideal and had safety concerns so instead, they canceled the rooms at Lakeway on March 13 and booked one Marriott hotel room downtown for the remainder of the trip. Weinstock also canceled the rental car after they switched hotels to keep costs down.
Again, the move was approved by the Deputy Comptroller and the women were told in order to get reimbursed they must submit the changes to the BOE when they returned.
The complaint alleged Miller spent more than the $4,075 alloted to her. However, OIG found however the city actually ended up saving $924.