Just about all of us have been negatively impacted by the rising cost of gasoline.
Unfortunately, the oil companies have us over a barrel — no pun intended — and we have no choice but to pay.
However, one elected official recently proposed a unique solution to easing some of his financial pain at the gas pump.
Sunset Hills Ward 1 Alderman Frank Hardy introduced an ordinance at the April 26 meeting of the Board of Aldermen that sought to reimburse city elected officials the current federal mileage reimbursement rate of 51 cents per mile driven on city business.
Hardy cited the skyrocketing cost of gasoline and his practice of traveling within his ward and throughout the city to meet with residents and see issues coming before the board firsthand.
Asked if he considered driving from his home to a Board of Aldermen meeting a reimbursable mileage expense, Hardy said April 26 that would not qualify for reimbursement because attending board meetings is part of the job responsibilities of an elected official. The reimbursement would apply to such travel as meeting with residents or businesses and driving within the city to inspect upcoming agenda items, he said.
But longtime Ward 3 Alderman Jan Hoffmann correctly noted that she considers such duties part of her job as an elected official.
Ward 3 Alderman Stephen Webb raised other concerns with Hardy’s proposal, including who would review and administer the mileage reimbursements. He also noted the city has dozens of volunteers who serve on various city boards and committees and receive no compensation at all.
Given the fact that the city of Sunset Hills encompasses a grand total of nine square miles, we believe Hardy’s proposal was way out of line.
But we’re not the only ones who thought it was a bad idea as aldermen voted 7-1 to reject the ordinance with only Hardy voting in favor of it. Even those aldermen who generally tend to side with Hardy on issues rightly were opposed to his proposal.
Hardy first was elected to office in 2006 in the wave of reform that washed over the city in the wake of the aborted MainStreet at Sunset shopping center fiasco.
Hardy may have been in tune with the needs of residents when he was first elected. But given his proposed ordinance on mileage reimbursement, we believe he needs to re-examine why he initially ran for the board because he’s certainly out of touch now.