BY MICHAEL WALTON
---- — TRAVERSE CITY — The Grand Traverse County Road Commission's new meeting reimbursement policy resolved concerns about the number and type of meetings for which commissioners drew extra pay, board members said.
"I think everyone is very cognizant of going to meetings that are appropriate," said commission Chairman Carl Brown, who reviews all meeting payments. "I don't see any excesses there."
The commission's new policy began in January after a self-imposed cap on meeting reimbursements, also called per diems, expired. The self-imposed cap was created last June amid questions about the validity of some per diem payments.
It mostly affected Commissioners Dave Taylor and Marc McKellar, who in 2012 were on pace to collect about $3,400 and $4,400, respectively, in extra pay for attending meetings and events such as ribbon-cuttings and social gatherings.
The current policy limits board members to a maximum of three per diems in a 24-hour period. It also specifies 42 types of meetings eligible for per diem expenses.
Taylor and McKellar are still on pace to collect roughly $2,300 in extra pay this year. Both collected $385 in per diems through February.
Brown collected $70 for meeting reimbursements in the first two months of 2013. Bill Mouser, the newest road commissioner, claimed $175 in per diems during the same time. Commissioner John Nelson does not claim per diems.
The self-imposed limit curbed per diem totals in 2012, but before it expired the road board temporarily lifted it in November for all meetings related to finding a new road commission manager and resolving litigation from the Hammond-Keystone roads project.
Brown said meetings related to those two topics were "over and above what commissioners are expected to do."
McKellar retroactively received an additional $385 in per diem payments for meetings in October and November once the cap was lifted. Former road Commissioner Jim Maitland and Brown similarly brought in an extra $280 each during those months, while Taylor collected an extra $210.
Commissioners work part-time for an annual base salary of $5,500, plus taxpayer-funded health insurance and a pension.