Friday, August 8, 2014

Guest View-Diane Peters: Hornat and Waters Charge You For Every Mile

Generally, we reserve Friday for "Bits and Pieces" of stuff about Oro Valley. This week, it being election time, we're going to also post a guest view regarding the practice of Council Member’s Hornat and Waters charging the taxpayers for every mile they drive. This includes miles they drive from their home to the Town offices.
There is something for you to consider as you cast your vote in the Oro Valley Town Council election, Do you think that the council incumbents have been good stewards of your taxpayer money? One indicator of this would be their requests for mileage reimbursements.

As a point of reference, I’m providing the statistics for all the councilmembers even though only three of them are up for re-election.

To their credit, Councilmembers Garner, Burns, and Snider charged ZERO for 2012-2013. They do not charge the taxpayers to attend meetings or events. Councilmember Zinkin charged only for trips outside of town limits, most trips averaging 30-50 miles.

Contrast this with the mileage reimbursements submitted by Councilmembers Hornat and Waters during the same period. They submitted a total of $2,637.56 despite rarely leaving town limits. They even charged the taxpayers when there was a free meal involved.

Hornat charged for every 8-mile round-trip from his home to Town Hall. He charged to attend fun events including a “Baseball Fiesta,” the Halloween Safe Treats Program, and the Annual Holiday Parade. He charged to attend events that included free meals such as the OV/Marana Legislative Breakfast, the Marana State of the Town Luncheon and the Annual TREO luncheon.

Waters charged for 4-mile round-trips from his home to Town Hall. He charged to attend enjoyable events such as ribbon cuttings, grand openings, the El Tour de Tucson, the Project Graduation Car Show, the Steam Pump Ranch Fall Festival, and the Holiday Tree Lighting. He also charged for attending events where he was treated to a free meal including farewell and retirement parties, the State of the Town Luncheon, and an Appreciation BBQ.

Waters even charged mileage to attend a Veterans Memorial Program and to deliver groceries for the disadvantaged at the Annual Ed Jones Thanksgiving Bag-a-Thon where he was treated to a free breakfast.

Perhaps the reason that Councilmembers Hornat and Waters attend so many events or visit Town Hall so frequently is because they get money-to-go in the form of mileage reimbursements. Apparently, they see this as an easy way of getting a few more bucks from the taxpayers. While I have no issue with anyone charging mileage for travel of 30-50 miles or more, I think it’s presumptuous for council members to think that taxpayers should foot the bill for travel within town limits or for attending enjoyable events and parties.

I have no doubt that Don Bristow will not follow this standard. He believes the citizens are stakeholders, not cash cows.
Diane Peters has lived in Oro Valley since 2003, moving here to escape the humidity of the East Coast.  Combining her love of animals and writing, she wrote her first protest letter at the age of 12 to the Canadian Prime Minister in support of ending the annual baby harp seal hunt. Years later, she flew by helicopter to the ice floes off the coast of Newfoundland where she was able to pet baby harp seals recently born on the frozen tundra.  Her other interests include reading, nature photography, traveling to National Parks, Native American history, art galleries, museums, and following politics. In her past life, she worked in medical research at various University Hospitals in New England, including coordinating Oncology Clinical Trials and preparing manuscripts for publication in medical journals. Her husband is an Army veteran who served in Germany and South Korea. A former hippie, he attended the 1969 Woodstock Festival in Upstate New York.


Richard Furash, MBA said...

I am having a little bit of difficulty with the point and content of Ms. Peters commentary.
It would appear that she is not happy that with one or more aspects of the conduct of Councilmen Waters and Hornat. It's hard to tell which.
She complains that they follow Town policy and charge for mileage that they expend doing their duty.
She seems to complain that they do their duty and attend business or fundraising events.
She then goes on the make an assumption that the reason they do this is some 'profit' incentive.
In the end it really doesn't matter what Ms. Peters point is from my viewpoint. But what is very evident that her motive is to personally attack the two gentlemen.
Oro Valley has so many positive aspects that we should spend our time enjoying and trumpeting. There are far too many things to do that sit at a computer and throw stones at elected officials.
The guest opinion is pettiness in it's finest form.......which is a direct reflection on the publisher of this blog. Go positive!!!

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Well, Dr. Bob, it sounds to me like those two guys are nickle & diming OV to death with these petty travel charges. Anybody else out there getting that?

Richard Furash, MBA said...

No this is not right to be charging for miles to and from Town hall as the IRS mileage rules clearly state that trips to and from your place of employment are not reimbursable. What I am gathering from this post is that any trip taken to Town hall is expensed to include council meetings as well as other meetings. This is improper conduct plain and simple as this is why they receive a paycheck for being a council member. When was the last time you expensed your travel to and from your workplace from home?

Richard Furash, MBA said...

The IRS rule should also include town employees that utilize town-owned autos to return to their home from work. This is income to the employee and should be charged as such. I understand it is common practice for police to take their squad cars to their home after ork

Richard Furash, MBA said...

They are not town employees

Richard Furash, MBA said...

You had difficulty understanding "the point." The point was to inform voters that Hornat and Waters are not good stewards of taxpayer money.

You said they are following Town policy. It may be a policy that they are ALLOWED to request mileage reimbursements, but it's interesting that Garner, Burns and Snider do not do this, and Zinkin only submits when it involves a lengthy trip. Ask yourself why these 4 council members have refrained from accepting mileage reimbursements while Hornat and Waters charge for every little thing. Here's a hint: It speaks to character.

You claim they are doing "their duty" when attending these functions. Are you implying that the others are NOT doing their duty and are NOT attending necessary functions?

Clearly, Garner, Burns, Zinkin and Snider don't believe it's proper to charge the taxpayers for attending council meetings or other meetings held at Town Hall. So...why do Hornat and Waters think it IS proper to do so?

And is it really "their duty" to attend parties? I personally find it unconscionable that they would charge mileage for attending frivolous events or that Waters charged mileage to drop off food for the disadvantaged. That's just tacky.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

You said, "The guest opinion is pettiness in it's finest form." I think toughteri said it best...the pettiness is in "these petty travel charges."

Richard Furash, MBA said...

They are employed, and paid, by us. It's their job.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

Sorry AZsheeplady...yo
u are off on this one. Elected officials are NOT employed by the town.

Richard Furash, MBA said...

WE elect them. WE pay them. They work for US!