Financial policy document sought by city

Discussion turns heated on question of when city reimburses council members

Port Orchard council members are considering adopting a comprehensive financial policy document that would serve as a future roadmap for city financial decisions.

The document would include guidelines and practices for how the city should operate in all financial matters, said Allan Martin, the city’s treasurer. It would include language on the city’s general financial structure, accounting, a debt policies, and setting up a city stabilization arrangement or reserve fund.

He said the document would be available online to citizens, in an effort to increase transparency of how the city government goes about its financial decisions. Most of the practices already exist and are written, he said, but a comprehensive document could go a long way in clarifying policies.

“It would provide best practices for the city to operate,” he said. “It would be a framework.”

Discussion on a potential financial policy document among council members and staff at Tuesday night’s city council work study meeting session turned heated at times, as talk drifted away from a policy document to a discussion of what community meetings city council members attended and when the councilors should be reimbursed for by the city.

Council member Jerry Childs suggested that any financial policy document drafted should include specific language about what meetings council should be reimbursed with taxpayer dollars. Childs said he was surprised when he went to attend a recent event, and the entry fee wasn’t covered by the city.

City councilors are allotted $3,135 collectively each year to pay for entry fees and meal tickets and mileage to and from events.

“I think any document we have, there should be something in here addressing funds,” Childs said. “What comes from the city fund and what comes from personal funds?”

City Treasurer Allan Martin told Childs he didn’t appreciate the sudden questioning and desire to turn a financial policy document discussion into a question about what meetings the city pays for councilors to attend.

“You’ve done this to me before,” Martin said to Childs. “And I don’t appreciate it.”

Martin said certain Kitsap Economic Development Alliance meetings and other events include liquor and wine in the cost of the entry fee. Martin said clear guidelines sent down from the Attorney General’s Office, called the Ferris Memo, prohibit paying for these meetings. Martin follows the guidelines as to what the city can legally reimburse councilors, he said.

Martin told Childs if he would like to draft a different document to bring to the city for approval, he was free to do so.

Mayor Tim Matthes said both discussions, one of a financial policy document and another of what the city can and cannot reimburse council members for are important topics. He said Martin has shown him the financial document draft before, and he would like to see council members bring back their own ideas for revision at a future work study meeting.

“Allan has constructed a good working document,” Matthes said.

Martin said he hoped the city could draft a resolution for a financial document before the city reviews the 2013 budget.


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