The Daily Rant
Rant archives
RSS feed for The Daily Rant RSS Feed
Streaming Daily Rants
Podcast/MP3 Daily Rants
About me
Home Turf
Pave the grass
My news clips
Contact me
Pa. gambles
Pa. pay raise
Pa. papers
Pa. poliblogs
Pa. columnists
Pa. AP news
N.J. papers
N.J. AP news
Good reporting
White House
GAO news
Iraq war
Peak oil
For Men
News feed
Warp Stock
Site map
Controller paid up front for trip

Times-Leader Staff Writer

WILKES-BARRE - Luzerne County Controller Tom Pizano and his deputy, Tom Dugan, won't have to be reimbursed after their 656-mile round trip to a statewide convention in Erie.

They've each already received a check for $757 to cover the cost of gas and their hotel rooms, even though the five-day trip isn't until next month.

"To be honest, I didn't want to put that money up totally," Pizano said Tuesday, when asked about the July 10 checks. He plans to bring his family to the convention, his first since taking office, at his own cost.

Pizano need not pay out of his pocket to go himself, according to Dugan. He said it's common for row officers to get the money up front.

Dugan, the office's veteran deputy, should know. "It's our job to police this stuff," he said.

Pizano finds nothing wrong with the practice. "My wife works for a private company. If she goes to a conference, they pay for the room up front and she gets a travel allowance."

He also said he has yet to cash the county check, preferring to keep the money separate until a day before the trip.

Before making the early reimbursement request, Dugan said he called the Automobile Association of America and found out the trip between Wilkes-Barre and Erie should take 328 miles one way.

Dugan simply doubled the mileage and multiplied it by the county reimbursement rate of 31.5 cents per mile, to get a total of $207.

As for the cost of the hotel room, Dugan said the County Code of the state allows row officers, their deputies and solicitors to spend up to $110 per day for a hotel room while attending annual meetings of their state associations.

The law says row officers "shall be reimbursed for actual expenses not to exceed $110 per day." The actual cost for the hotel room will be $79 per night plus $4.75 state sales tax.

The remainder of the money does not have to be turned back, according to Dugan. It can be used to pay other expenses, such as meals. Anyone attending a convention can also request reimbursement of up to $30 per day for meals.

"Any time you go to a hotel you don't get meals for $8 or $9 a day," Dugan said. "Still, it's no vacation."

Attendance at seminars during the County Controller's Association is "pretty closely watched," he said. "We have to sign in because some people are using (the seminars) for continuing education credits."

Wednesday, July 22, 1998