One Knox County commissioner accounts for most of travel costs

One Knox County commissioner accounts for majority of travel expenses last year

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"I don't think we should ever pass up an opportunity to become a more educated public servant and that's exactly what these conferences do," Commissioner Amy Broyles said. "I don't think we should ever pass up an opportunity to become a more educated public servant and that's exactly what these conferences do," Commissioner Amy Broyles said.
"I have a problem with this commissioner having by far spent the most amount of money, yet she has the worst attendance record in County Commission," Commissioner R. Larry Smith said. "I have a problem with this commissioner having by far spent the most amount of money, yet she has the worst attendance record in County Commission," Commissioner R. Larry Smith said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Travel expenses filed by Knox County commissioners have dropped overall, but one commissioner accounted for more than 80 percent of the expenses filed in fiscal year 2013.

According to Knox County finance records, county commissioners filed $6,493.19 in travel and educational expenses for FY 2013. They filed $8,176.34 in FY 2012.

Commissioner Amy Broyles accounted for $5,180.89 of the total amount in FY 2013; Mike Hammond accounted for $747.30; Sam McKenzie accounted for $515; and Brad Anders made up $50 of the total.

Broyles told 6 News the disparity was in part due to the fact that Hammond had canceled plans to attend a National Association of Counties conference (NACo). The cancellation is indicated in county records.

Broyles' expenses included the cost for the Southeast Tennessee Women's Summit, Women Today & Tomorrow and NACo.

"I don't think we should ever pass up an opportunity to become a more educated public servant and that's exactly what these conferences do," Broyles said.

Broyles said she is judicious when selecting the conferences and believes she can better serve the public using what she learns at the events.

"One of the things I'm working on now is through NACo, we can get a free prescription drug card and discount dental card for citizens here in Knox County," Broyles said.  

Broyles said commissioners can also learn a lot from interacting with elected officials from different parts of the state and country.

"We don't know everything here and learning from other people's mistakes and successes can make us better public servants here in Knox County," Broyles said.


Criticism over travel expenses

Knox County Commissioner R. Larry Smith said he believes Broyles' expenses were excessive.

"I don't have a problem with a commissioner going to a meeting, but don't abuse it," Smith said.

Smith did not submit any travel expenses for FY 2013, but in 2012 he did attend two conferences in Nashville at a cost of $416.24.

Smith has also criticized Broyles for maintaining a poor attendance record.

"I have a problem with this commissioner having by far spent the most amount of money, yet she has the worst attendance record in County Commission," Smith said.

According to Knox County Commission minutes, last year's conference dates did not match up with the two commission meetings Broyles missed in 2012.

"I've missed very few meetings because of conferences," Broyles said. "When I missed meetings, it was because I was in the hospital or ill."

In FY 2012, Hammond, Anders, Broyles and Smith attended conferences in Nashville. Commissioner Broyles also attended a conference in Washington D.C.

In FY 2011, Hammond, Anders. McKenzie and Jeff Ownby filed travel expenses for conferences in Nashville. Broyles, Hammond and Anders also attended conferences in Washington D.C.

"There's value in some of them and I've seen it in some of the legislative conferences I've attended," Anders told 6 News.

Anders said some of the conferences he attended covered topics including bond and health issues.

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