Members of the Hamilton County commission reportedly spend a hefty chunk of taxpayer money treating their constituents to meals, according to the Chattanooga-based News Channel 9.
District 4 Commissioner Warren Mackey, for instance, said he spent nearly $2,000 taking constituents out to meals, according to the station.
“All of the commissioners have spent money taking people to coffee, lunch and dinner to get information,” Mackey reportedly told the station.
Commissioners reportedly said this “has been a standard practice for nearly 40 years.” News Channel 9 asked if that is a gray area.
To that, Commission Chairwoman Sabrena Smedley says there’s no need to investigate.
“Commissioner Mackey has not done anything wrong,” Smedley reportedly told the station, adding Mackey met all the guidelines needed to get reimbursed for all his expenditures.
According to the station, commissioners have a limit of $12,500 to spend on travel, office needs and even meals.
“They must turn in detailed reports of the expenses,” News Channel 9 said.
Last week, Chattanooga resident Darrell Adams reportedly asked at a county commission meeting “Are they using our money to enjoy themselves, or are they using our money to just take care of us?”
Smedly told the station if there were ever a problem the county’s finance committee would question the expenditure.
News Channel 9 told viewers that if they were curious about how commissioners spend taxpayer money then all they need to do is pull up public records on the county commission’s website.
People who want an even more detailed account may also file an open records request for each commissioner’s expenditures, the station said.
Chattanooga, of course, is in Hamilton County.
Chattanooga taxpayers already had reason to mistrust how their local city officials were spending their taxpayer dollars.
As The Tennessee Star reported last month, city officials mismanaged more than $2 million of taxpayer money.
This, from an audit that was done of eight city projects.
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo “Warren Mackey” by Warren Mackey; “Sabrena Smedly” by Sabrena Smedly.