Published: Sep 15, 2010 5:56 AM EDT
Updated: Sep 14, 2010 9:45 PM EDT

CHARLOTTE COUNTY, Fla. - The board designates an amount each year for travel, and they are well over the limit. 

The Charlotte County Commission Chair is upset that one colleague has used the majority of the money, but that commissioner is defending his trips.

Trips to Tampa, Tennessee, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.are all under the microscope as one Charlotte County commissioner wants more oversight of the travel budget and others justify their spending, saying it's good for the county.

"We should be worried about creating jobs," says Commissioner Robert Skidmore. "If travel creates jobs, then by golly, travel."

The commission has a travel budget of $9,000.00.

Commissioner Robert Skidmore has taken the largest piece of the pie, racking up charges totaling more than $6,100 for at least 9 trips.

He says they will benefit the county in terms of jobs and revenue.
"The 400 jobs that you read about in the paper last week, the $100 million phase one resort project that almost every commissioner on this board is jockeying to be the face of this project," says Skidmore. "I was the one that flew to Tennessee and met with those individuals and let them know, 'Hey, Charlotte county's here'."

Four of the five commissioners say most of the trips are critical, but they don't all bill the county for the mileage or use county vehicles.

"I do very little travel, but i think it's necessary," says Commissioner Tricia Duffy. "I think it's important that we have the ability to lobby our legislators in Washington, D.C. every year."

Commissioner Bob Starr is outraged. He wanted to require board approval for commissioners' major trips and large expenses. 

"I believe it's irresponsible for this board to have no policy with regard to commissioner spending," said Starr Tuesday.

Commissioner Skidmore says Starr is cheap.

"The person who has the problem with it never leaves Charlotte County," Skidmore says of Starr. "He's been called a do-nothing commissioner because he never leaves Charlotte County."