The News Desk is a collection of news, notes and breaking items affecting the Fredericksburg community.
Vegas trip prompts travel policy review
BY KATIE THISDELL
Fire Chief Rob Brown’s last day in Stafford County is May 11.
For the next several days, he’s attending an annual fire and rescue conference in Las Vegas, along with his interim replacement, Assistant Chief Mark Lockhart.
The International Association of Fire Chiefs annual Fire–Rescue Med Conference runs May 4–8.
Both are attending at no cost to Stafford County, according to an email memo from County Administrator Anthony Romanello.
Both chiefs are on boards and committees for IAFC, so their conference expenses were covered by the organization, Romanello said.
However, learning of Brown’s conference attendance, Supervisor Cord Sterling has proposed a hiatus on county travel until policies are revised.
At its May 15 meeting, the Finance, Audit and Budget Committee will likely discuss travel and conferences policies, last updated in 2008, at Sterling’s request.
County staff members have already been looking at federal reimbursement policies.
They include a provision for employees to reimburse the county for conference attendance if they leave their jobs within a certain time period.
Brown has been a member of IACF for eight years, and during that time, the organization has covered his conference costs. When he and Romanello first discussed his departure, Brown said he would use his vacation time.
Supervisor Jack Cavalier said he was not comfortable with the timing of the conference.
“I believe he should return to Stafford today and spend his final week in the office working transition issues,” Cavalier wrote in an email to county staff and fellow board members.
“Stafford will not be the beneficiary of any knowledge gained from his attendance at this conference—any benefit derived from this will go to his new jurisdiction.”
On April 5, Brown announced that he was hired as the new fire chief in Fresno, Calif. He begins work there May 14.
Lockhart will assume the Stafford post May 12, until a permanent fire chief is hired.
The county pays the IAFC membership fees for both, a total of $553.
The conference offers continuing education credits required for Brown and Lockhart to maintain their credentials as fire chiefs, Romanello said.
“He and I did discuss his attendance in the context of transition planning, and I approved his attendance,” Romanello said in his email to the board Friday afternoon.
Brown is using his annual leave for the time out of the office.
Katie Thisdell: 540/735-1975