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No New Jersey flight on Cap Metro's dime

By Lee Nichols, Fri., May 27, 2011

Cap Metro Board Member Grounded

Some unexpected tension arose at Monday's Capital Metro board of directors meeting when board chair and Austin Mayor Pro Tem Mike Martinez led a 3-4-1 vote to deny board member Beverly Silas funds to travel to Jersey City, N.J., for the American Public Transportation Association seminar. The board approved money for Silas to travel to Boston for the APTA rail conference, but when the seminar vote came up, Martinez objected that Silas was getting well over the $6,000 yearly travel allotment per member, a policy approved by the board last September. The policy allows members to use funds that other members don't plan to use, as well an additional $4,250 in discretionary funds, both subject to board approval, but Martinez said Silas was now 41% above her allotment. The curbing of transportation funds last year was a symbolic move – ultimately, the travel budget represents only about .02% of the agency's budget – intended to show board sacrifice when other agency departments were being asked to cut back. "Our focus should remain in Austin," Martinez said. "Our travel should remain limited." At press time, Silas had not replied to an email requesting comment.

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