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Double Dipping Ok, So Says Elk Grove City Attorney Susan Cochran



No comment on late submittal of expenses; Scherman seemingly late again in violation of city policy for July mileage expenses


Elk Grove city attorney Susan Cochran told Elk Grove City Council members last night that it is acceptable for council members to seek reimbursement from the city for expenditure paid for by other government entities.

The question arose in response to revelations that council member Sophia Scherman sought and was paid for mileage expenses by the city for her attendance at various boards she serves on in behalf of the city.

Specifically, Cochran addressed the $100 Per Diem Scherman receives for her attendance at board meetings of the Sacramento County Sanitation District. In addition to the $100 Per Diem, the city had reimbursed Scherman for at least six months worth of mileage to attend the meetings.

Citing the safety and health regulation as her guidepost for interpreting Scherman's actions, Cochran said "what the vice mayor did was consistent with the letter of the law." Cochran did not however cite the specific section within the health and safety code.

On a practical matter Cochran advised council members to reconsider the resolution, signed by Scherman in December, 2006, which established expense reporting requirements saying they could be broadly interpreted. "It may be in your best interest to reconsider the language," Cochran advised.

Cochran did not address the timeliness of Scherman expenditures, which according to city code must be submitted on a monthly basis. Scherman submitted documentation for the January through June, 2009 period in July and was not within the 30 day time frame required.

As of last night's meeting Scherman had not submitted her mileage expense request, if she should decide to seek them, for the July, 2009 period within the 30 day requirement as required by city law.

In an earlier e-mail, city finance manager Rebecca Craig, CPA, acknowledged that Scherman had violated the resolution and said that the city would do a better job of ensuring compliance.

"In light of reading the policy again, it does appear that the expense claim was filed late," Craig wrote. "We will be more observant of this parameter and remind Council members to file reimbursement claims more timely."




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