UPDATE: Kyle City Manager Lanny Lambert forwarded two emails to the Hays Free Press Thursday afternoon acknowledging reimbursements to the city for money issued in advance of the 2012 Texas Municipal League (TML) Conference for Mayor Lucy Johnson and Council Member Samantha LeMense.
The reimbursements to the city came after almost two months since the conference’s conclusion, and over two weeks after the city’s Finance Director Perwez Moheet sent them an email asking to have the travel advance finances “settled.”
“This is to acknowledge receipt of your personal check number 1347 made payable to the City of Kyle in the amount of $434.34 for repayment of the travel advance issued for the 2012 TML Conference,” said a Thursday afternoon email addressed to Johnson, from Moheet.
Moheet sent a similar email to LeMense Thursday afternoon.
“This is to acknowledge receipt of your personal check number 1046 made payable to the City of Kyle in the amount of $143.52 for the unexpended amount of the total travel advance issued to attend the 2012 TML Conference.”
As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the Hays Free Press had not received communication from the city indicating that Council Member Becky Selbera had reimbursed Kyle’s coffers for her remaining unexpended monies received in anticipation of the 2012 TML Conference.
Moheet sent Selbera an email at 2:06 p.m. stating that in order to “fully reconcile and close-out the travel advance,” she would need to remit a $15.99 outstanding payment to the city, as well as three receipts for meals on Nov. 14 and 15.
by ANDY SEVILLA
Almost two months after traveling to North Texas for a conference, Kyle Mayor Lucy Johnson has yet to file an expense report. Meanwhile, council members Becky Selbera and Samantha LeMense owe money. All received funds in advance to cover expenditures while conducting city business.
Kyle presented the elected officials with a cash advance of $434.34 in November to cover travel, meals and miscellaneous expenses incurred during the Texas Municipal League (TML) conference held in Grapevine.
The city used figures provided by the U.S. General Services Administration to determine the cash advance amount for travel, meals and incidentals for the conference, which is held annually and hosts informative sessions that serve as continuing education for city officials.
In response to an open records request by the Hays Free Press, City Secretary Amelia Sanchez provided 80 pages detailing conference reservations, travel, meals, emails and finances on Dec. 20.
According to those documents, only City Manager Lanny Lambert and Council Member David Wilson had settled expenses with the city. Johnson, Selbera and LeMense had not.
In a second response to the original open records request, Finance Director Perwez Moheet presented 135 pages of documents on Dec. 26, showcasing expense reports by Selbera and LeMense. According to those documents Selbera still owes the city $16 and LeMense owes $143.52.
Council members Diane Hervol, Brad Pickett and Ray Bryant declined attending the event on the city’s dime, during fiscal year 2013 budget talks. Of the three, only Bryant attended the conference – as his employer, Texas Disposal Systems (TDS), covered the cost, according to city documents.
Johnson said Monday that she accepted the cash advance at the “urg(ing)” of city administration, but was confounded, as it was the first time the city offered coverage of expenses in advance to travel.
“This was weird because this is the first time we’ve done it like this. I guess I’m just not used to it,” Johnson said in a telephone call.
She said she intends to refund the $434.34, as she did not want to charge the city her airfare for the conference, nor any meals. She said she had not refunded the city yet because the matter had not “come up,” and she was unaccustomed to receiving cash in advance of city travel.
Moheet did, however, communicate to the elected officials via email on Dec. 19 that TML travel finances needed to be “settled” soon.
“This is a reminder to please submit your travel expense claim to settle up for the travel advance in the amount of $434.34 issued to you by the City to attend the 2012 TML Conference. It is important that the travel advance issued to you is reconciled and settled as soon as possible,” the email read in part, which also warned council members that an open records request for that information had been submitted by the Hays Free Press and would be responded to, by the city, two days later.
In the documents received Dec. 26, LeMense said she would only charge the city reimbursement for her 524 miles in gas/travel, which amounts to $290.82. She said she would not be “filing any meals to the city.”
The Dec. 26 documents show that Selbera is charging the city $85.90 in meals, though only three of the seven receipts for those costs were submitted. She is also charging 599 miles for travel at a cost of $332.44.
The city had estimated travel from Kyle to Grapevine at 479.9 miles and is reimbursing travel at $0.555 per mile.
Wilson requested that the $434.34 check issued to him be voided and that he just be reimbursed for the expenses he incurred, which amounted to $19.98 for food.
The total cost for registrations to the 2012 TML Conference was $2,580, though $955 of that was refunded to the city after Hervol, Pickett and Bryant declined registration to the conference.
Lodging for the event totaled $400.94 for each elected official that attended. They attended three days of the conference and only required lodging for two days, at $169 per night.
Lambert required three days of lodging, as he attended the conference for its entire duration, Dec. 13-16.
Lambert was provided with a cash advance amounting to $490.34. His total travel expense equaled $306.26. He reimbursed the city $233 on Dec. 12, although he only owed Kyle $184.08. City documents show the overpayment was applied to gas charges.