Concerned Centerville residents want an explanation for the city’s new travel policy

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CENTERVILLE, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – One Centerville woman is concerned her tax dollars aren’t going where she wants them. 

The city passed a new policy allowing travel expenses for elected officials spouses to be reimbursed during business trips. 

"What this does is if we have an official function and our spouse is there, then the city will pay for the spouse’s meal." Centerville Mayor John Harley said. 

Harley says it’s normal, but a concerned Geraldine Parker thinks otherwise. She says she doesn’t want tax dollars feeding anyone other than city officials. 

"They would not want to spend any money on me if I go on a business trip with my husband.They wouldn’t want to pay for my meals either," Parker said. 

Council amended the travel policy in August saying "travel expenses related to an official’s spouse are reimbursable by the city."

Their meals too. 

"When we discussed this it was open to the audience out there. The audience was allowed to participate," Harley said. 

He says if a spouse joins an elected official on a business trip then the city will cover them.

He adds other cities around the state are doing the exact same thing.

41NBC checked other cities in Houston County:

Warner Robins’ municipal code doesn’t mention spousal benefits.

The city of Perry, however, does have a similar policy. It’s policy extends to all city employees and it can’t cost the city anything extra. 

"I believe it’s fair. We have to hold ourselves to a high integrity anyway. That’s what being a city councilmen to Jon Nichols means in the first place," councilman Jon Nichols said. 

Nichols says officials have two options; using a city credit card, or taking a $125 per diem. 

He adds records of what is and isn’t spent must be turned into the city.

"If we went and did this 10, 15, 20 times a year, I believe that there should be concern then, but we’re talking about two times a year," Nichols said. 

Mayor Harley thinks it’s appropriate. 

"Certainly I think it’s fair. I don’t see any problem with that," Harley said. 

Geraldine disagrees. 

"I think if the wives want to go on the trip they should pay for their own meals," Parker said. 

To be clear, Centerville officials aren’t allowed spend extra money on their spouse, or any other family member, on the city’s dime except for food and travel.

Mayor Harley welcomes residents to come to a city council meeting if they have concerns. 

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(478) 745-4141 ext. 311 Skyler joined the 41 NBC News Team in April 2013. He anchors the news at 6 p.m. and also covers stories going on throughout the day. He was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in Stone Mountain, Georgia, a suburb right outside of Atlanta. Before heading to Middle Georgia, Skyler worked as a stage manager for WSB- TV in Atlanta. Skyler graduated from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia in 2011 with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Multimedia Communication. He went to school initially to be an architect, but one step inside of the student radio station changed everything. While at Georgia Southern, he was exposed to radio and television and became the Program Director of the student radio station and was a part of a team that received a Southeast Regional student Emmy for their work on the program "Inside Georgia Southern Football." Skyler anchored and reported for Georgia Southern University's "Eagle News." There he covered the 2010 midterm elections live as well as reported on stories in the community. In the Spring 2012, Skyler interned for Clear Channel in Los Angeles, California. Skyler is a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Incorporated. In his free time, you can find Skyler watching the latest movies and reading up on all things in Hollywood. He also loves spending time with his family and friends and finding inspirational quotes. He loves telling stories about politics, tax dollars at work in the community, and highlighting people and business who don’t normally get the spotlight. If you have any story ideas, email Skyler at shenry@41nbc.com.