BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A 90-day workgroup Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott tasked with reviewing the city’s administrative manual to develop guidance for travel taken by elected officials has made its recommendations Wednesday.

The Board of Estimates will consider the proposed guidelines, which reflect changes to the City’s administrative manual, at an upcoming meeting.

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The group focused on 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’s charter.

The group determined the following expenses are allowable:

  • Travel away from home.
  • Mileage reimbursement for the use of elected official-owned vehicle plus parking and
    tolls.
  • Telephone calls for city business.
  • Local transportation.
  • Registration for conferences directly related to the business of the elected official’s office.
  • Memberships in government-related associations.
  • Meals and Entertainment.

The following expenses are not allowable, according to the group:

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  • Sales tax.
  • Alcoholic beverages.
  • Gifts or charitable contributions.
  • Political contributions and other political-related expenses.
  • Meals and entertainment when City-related business is not conducted.
  • Dues and memberships in clubs organized for pleasure, recreation or social purposes, including country clubs, golf and athletic clubs, airline clubs, hotel clubs and clubs that provide meals.
  • Expenses that are not directly related to or associated with city business.

“I established this workgroup to ensure all public officials receive clear and consistent guidance when it comes to travel and notification policy, once and for all,”  Scott said. “Thanks to the thorough review of this group, these questions will be answered for any significant travel on city business undertaken by public officials going forward.”

Under the new proposed guidelines, all travel valued at more than $100 – paid for in whole or in part by third parties – must receive Board of Estimates approval. Public officials must disclose where they are going, the purpose and cost of the trip, and who is paying for it. Additionally, travel lasting for more than a week must also be approved by the Board of Estimates.

The workgroup, first established by the Mayor on Feb. 18, included the city administrator, city solicitor, director of human resources and director of finance.

“The recommended procedures for travel by public officials bring clarity to the rules and emphasize the importance of transparency – where officials are traveling, who is paying for it, and how much it costs – as well as accountability – how much time are officials spending away from Baltimore, doing what,” Solicitor Jim Shea said. “All of this is consistent with Mayor Scott’s pledge to bring transparency and accountability to city government.”

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CBS Baltimore Staff