Greene commissioners balk at judges’ $10K travel requests

Travel costs for two Greene County judges who want to attend this year’s annual conference of the American Judges Association are getting close scrutiny.

County commissioners recently voted to delay approving an expenditure of $10,000 for Judge Stephen A. Wolaver, Common Pleas Court Criminal Division, and Judge Steven L. Hurley, Domestic Relations Court. The line item is based on the judges’ submitted estimates for traveling to Lihue, Hawaii, in September for the annual conference.

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According to a record of the commissioners’ last meeting in April, Commission President Tom Koogler voiced concerns over the expenditure, questioning “what the return on investment will be.” Commissioner Bob Glaser characterized the proposed costs as “over the top,” and advised the county’s administration to talk to the judges about paring down their request, according to the meetings’ minutes.

The expenditure was removed from the list of travel expenses up for commissioners’ approval, but the issue may be reconsidered at a future meeting, according to County Administrator Brandon Huddleson.

“The commissioners … instructed me to meet with the judges to obtain additional information,” Huddleson said. “This specific conference is an annual event that is held in different locations each year.”

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The AJA annual conference is set to happen Sept. 23-28 and it’s being held this year at the Marriott Resort on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. A special rate of $219 a night is being offered for judges staying at the resort, according to the AJA.

There is a conference registration fee of $525 ($495 if registered by July 1), and an additional fee of $175-$200 is assessed for guests and spouses attending the conference, according to the AJA.

According to April 19 expenditure requests from the judges, Wolaver asked for $6,945 and Hurley requested nearly half that amount, $3,343, to attend the same event, according to county records.

Both judges requested the early-bird registration fee of $495 to be paid for in advance, according to county records.

Wolaver requested reimbursement to cover $3,000 for lodging; $2,000 for transportation; $1,200 for meals; and $250 for miscellaneous expenses, according to county records.

Hurley requested advanced payment of $1,738 for lodging and $750 for transportation; he requested reimbursement of $300 for meals and $60 for miscellaneous expenses, according to county records.

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