Editorial: In the long run, travel policy is a good idea

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 3, 2006

The travel policy approved by the city council recently may seem like a bad shake for taxpayers at first glance, but we think it bodes well for residents.

The policy is as individualized as each city and county is, but developing one wasn’t an option, it was mandated by the state legislature during its regular 2005 session. Freeborn County adopted a travel policy earlier this year.

The city adopted a policy which will allow a meeting-by-meeting evaluation to determine if council members will truly benefit from the event. The council will judge in advance during an open meeting whether any event, workshop, conference or assignment will provide relevant training, networking opportunities with other elected officials, the opportunity to look at other facilities or functions similar to those operating or proposed in

Albert Lea and, of course the ever-popular, is there enough money in the budget to cover expenses.

One might argue council members are simply looking for a good time, but we disagree. While there is no doubt these meetings can be fun, there is a lot of work also being done and we think any time public officials get out of their own little box and see how others operate, it comes back as a benefit to local residents.

Take, for instance, the taping and airing of public meetings. Learning what works and doesn’t work in other cities and counties can help our elected officials find an acceptable way to broadcast meetings so all residents have access to

local government operations. For whatever reason, some people won’t attend a meeting, but put it on TV, and they are an enthusiastic audience.

Evaluating each meeting’s value will ensure residents are getting their money’s worth from elected officials and make the council accountable for bringing back valuable information to progress this community.