The Alexandria City Council has voted to require that its members, as well as the city's manager, attorney and clerk, notify the council in advance of any trip for which expenses would be charged to the city.
Trips in the Washington metropolitan area and the state of Virginia are exempt from the provisions of the resolution, as are trips costing less than $500.
A resolution governing the disclosure of travel expenses was first suggested by former vice mayor James P. Moran. Moran returned $1,242 to the city following allegations that he had conducted private business on a city-financed trip to Zurich, Switzerland. He resigned last summer as part of a plea bargain.
Council member Donald C. Casey introduced the travel measure as well as another measure covering disclosure of potential conflicts of interest in business matters.
After the council has been notified, according to the resolution, the city manager will be responsible for approving the trips and accounting for any advances and reimbursements. The manager is required by the resolution to inform the council when that accounting is completed.
The resolution also calls for notice of requests for advances of funds or reimbursement for travel expenses to be docketed as an information item on the consent calendar of the following city council meeting. Items on the consent calendar are generally voted on without discussion, but any item may be removed from the consent calendar and discussed.
Casey said the resolution should discourage trips that might be of questionable value to the city by bringing them before the council and press.
Council member Robert C. Calhoun questioned the scope of the measure when it was originally proposed, but feels comfortable with the version passed by the council. The measure originally covered city staff below the city manager level, and had no lower limit on the cost of the trip. Calhoun noted that the original measure would have covered the city manager's catching a cab into the District. He finds the measure as passed "wholly acceptable and quite desirable."
Mayor Charles E. Beatley Jr. said he sees the measure as more of a "monitor and notice" situation, and feels that trips by the council and their appointed city staff members should be brought before the council.