County Hall travel spending soars 56%
Spending on Miami-Dade County employee travel increased 56% last fiscal year from the prior year.
Staff spent about $1.78 million on travel in 2012-13, about $640,000 more than 2011-12.
That was funded by the general and special revenue funds, grants, and all but two proprietary funds. If travel funded by the two proprietary accounts were included, then spending increased 50%, additional data showed.
Not only did the funds for staff travel jump from year to year, but so did the number of trips.
Between 2011-12 and 2012-13, total county employee trips rose 16% and the number abroad soared about 76%, according to a Miami Today analysis of the county report.
County officials did not address Miami Today’s inquiry why travel spending and the number of trips rose.
In 2012-13, staff took 2,186 trips, 146 of them abroad.
These figures consider one trip taken by multiple employees as multiple trips. For example, if seven staffers went to Colombia to develop economic ties, it was counted as seven trips.
While the report showed Aviation Department staff took 38 trips abroad last fiscal year, the department later said only 22 trips were abroad.* If that is the case, overall county travel abroad increased 57%.
County Commission Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa had requested the report to see if the county can wring savings from staff travel spending.
Ms. Sosa said economic development trips are important. Travels to Washington, DC, and Tallahassee are a must since that’s where the county fights for its interests, she said. But, she added, the report’s data would be useful to learn if the county could reduce professional training trips:
“Sometimes instead of sending 15 employees to another place for training, maybe we could bring the trainer here.”
*Clarification: After publication, an aviation department spokesperson said that nine of Aviation’s trips were funded by outside sources and some trips from a previous fiscal year were incorrectly included in the county report obtained by Miami Today.