According to a recent investigative report by WFTV 9, District 6 City Commissioner Samuel Ings has spent over half of the total amount of money spent by all commissioners so far in this fiscal year on credit cards paid for by taxpayers.
City commissioners have spent a total of $70,000 so far combined, since the last fiscal year began in October. Ings has spent $38,000 of that amount, according to the report.
The budget for city commissioners was increased from $90,000 to $125,000 last year after a majority vote that Mayor Buddy Dyer was supportive of.
The money Ings spent in 2015 was about $15,000 for out of town travel, entertainment and food, WFTV reports, and he spent hundreds at the Amway Center and Metrowest Golf Club. Another $52,000 spent by Ings was listed as “operating expenses.”
Ings has a history of outspending his peers on the city council, having spent more than $120,000 in the previous fiscal year.
Behind Ings in spending are Commissioners Regina Hill of District 5 and Patty Sheehan of District 4, having spent $11,000 and $10,000 respectively since last October.
Mike Cantone with TaxWatch is quoted by WFTV as saying that city officials using taxpayer-funded expense accounts, while also getting paid salaries, “raises serious ethical questions,” and leaves him wondering where accountability in City Hall is.
District 1 Commissioner Jim Gray said in an email that he believed that as commissioners, they should all be leading by example. He questioned that if they expected the various departments of the city’s government and their managers to stick to budgets, why shouldn’t they do the same themselves?
“I believe we already had sufficient discretionary funds in the 2015 budget,” he wrote, “and if a Commissioner had a specific project/program they want to fund, let’s bring it before City Council as a budgeted item open to public discussion.
“Unfortunately, the Mayor and 3 other Commissioners didn’t agree with me,” he finished.