County commissioner’s trip leads to push for travel policy

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – After Sedgwick County Commissioner Lacey Cruse took a trip to Ghana partially paid for with taxpayer funds, some commissioners including Cruse, are looking at the idea to create a travel policy.

Right now, there is no policy in Sedgwick County for trips taken by county commissioners. A commissioner does not have to disclose details about his or her trip to other commissioners or even get their approval.

According to Cruse, all the commissioners, as well as some city council members and Wichita’s mayor were invited to Africa on the trip.

Commissioner Lacey Cruse with leaders and other women in Ghana
Courtesy: Lacey Cruse

The invitation came from Queen Mother Nana Aplam II who visited Wichita last summer and was honored by the county commission and other local leaders.

“The whole point of this is to share with our community what partners could partner in Ghana,” said Cruse. “The opportunities are there. People just have to take the time to listen.”

Cruse spent a week visiting with aviation and education leaders, touring parts of the area, and much more.

$2,902.79 in Sedgwick County funds were used for the flight and hotel, but Cruse said the cost of expenses including vaccinations, transportation, food, and a visa all came out of her own pocket.

Cruse’s trip was announced, but some commissioners said the feedback from it indicate the need for a policy on travel.

“I do trust my colleagues,” said Jim Howell, Sedgwick County commissioner. “I don’t know if we should be necessarily asking for permission, but I do think some information sharing would be reasonable before the trip. It’s not that anyone has done anything wrong. I don’t think they have. I guess this kind of highlights the fact that we don’t have any policy.”

Sine 2010, county commissioners have taken 43 trips, which were paid for by county funds. That includes 24 trips to Washington, D.C.

In 2010 and 2011, the combined travel totaled more than $10,000 each year. Some commissioners during that time took several trips.

The money to pay for commissioner travel comes from a portion of the county’s budget that is set aside in a contingency fund.

“I did go to the leadership of this commission at the time,” said Cruse. “I went to Chairman Dennis. I went to commissioner Meitnzer, and I asked for their opinions on this trip. They were both supportive and that is why I went.”

Cruse agrees with her colleagues and said the plan to create a policy would be a positive move.

“As always, we can improve,” said Cruse. “If setting a policy is what we need to do, then I’m 100 percent for that.”

Cruse said she is excited to share the details of her trip with everyone.

“The work starts now,” said Cruse. “Nothing happens overnight, but you can’t walk through the door until you open it.”

Cruse said she came back from her meetings with officials in Africa with lists of possible projects and partnerships that would benefit Wichita and Sedgwick County.

“We are the Air Capital of the World,” said Cruse. “We have the skillset where we can help and partner with the county of Ghana and with their aviation minister.”

Cruse will share her findings from her trip in a presentation at the Sedgwick County Courthouse, 3rd floor at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday (Feb. 11).

County Trips by Commissioner and Location
Year
Commissioner
Location
Cost
2019
Pete Meitzner
Las Vegas, NV
$359.96
2019
Pete Meitzner
Washington, DC
$1,300.93
2019
David Dennis
Jacksonville, FL
$668.85
2019
Lacey Cruse
San Antonio, TX
$282.49
2019
Lacey Cruse
San Antonio, TX
$462.94
2018
David Unruh
Washington, DC
$727.59
2018
Michael O’Donnell
Washington, DC
$905.75
2018
Michael O’Donnell
Washington, DC
$1,802.60
2018
David Dennis
Boise, ID
$380.00
2018
Richard Ranzau
Washington, DC
$634.90
2018
Jim Howell
Washington, DC
$667.84
2017
David Unruh
Washington, DC
$1,685.45
2017
David Dennis
Raleigh/Durham, NC
$80.00
2017
David Dennis
Washington, DC
$1,535.61
2017
Jim Howell
Raleigh/Durham, NC
$80.00
2016
Jim Howell
Nashville, TN
$93.95
2014
David Unruh
Washington, DC
$2,088.48
2014
Tim Norton
Washington, DC
$2,100.03
2013
David Unruh
Washington, DC
$2,208.28
2013
David Unruh
Los Angeles, CA
$301.60
2013
Tim Norton
Des Moines, IA
$1,450.00
2013
Tim Norton
Washington, DC
$1,584.34
2013
Karl Peterjohn
Dallas, TX
$337.89
2013
Jim Skelton
Washington, DC
$1,860.29
2012
David Unruh
Washington, DC
$2,125.60
2012
Tim Norton
Washington, DC
$1,691.71
2012
Richard Ranzau
Washington, DC
$2,705.95
2012
Jim Skelton
Washington, DC
$1,655.37
2011
David Unruh
Pittsburgh, PA
$52.79
2011
David Unruh
Washington, DC
$2,223.19
2011
David Unruh
New Orleans, LA
$455.80
2011
Tim Norton
Washington, DC
$2,211.56
2011
Tim Norton
Washington, DC
$2,061.69
2011
Tim Norton
Atlanta, GA
$273.44
2011
Tim Norton
Washington, DC
$408.74
2011
Jim Skelton
Washington, DC
$2,167.06
2011
Gwen Welshimer
Undetermined Travel*
$512.80
2010
David Unruh
Washington, DC
$2,768.64
2010
Tim Norton
Omaha, NE
$1,199.98
2010
Tim Norton
Pacific Grove, CA
$1,490.98
2010
Tim Norton
Louisville, KY
$1,900.00
2010
Tim Norton
Chapel Hill, NC
$1,144.04
2010
Tim Norton
Washington, DC
$2,054.58

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