Training is valuable and often required, but we haven’t seen any practical reasons presented for the Covington City Council to change the city’s travel policy for employees.
The current plan, which allows employees to get overnight lodging for training classes more than 50 miles away from City Hall, seems to work just fine. And if it’s not, there would seem to be better, more nuanced solutions than just reducing that limit to 35 miles for multi-day classes (single-day classes would stay at 50 miles under the proposed change).
The argument presented Monday is that parts of Atlanta, as well as all of Athens and Forsyth – all three are popular training spots – are more than 35 miles away but less than 50, and the city doesn’t want employees driving home late from classes.
First – and the city may already be doing some of this – in today’s world of webinars, smart phones and Skype, the city needs to be exploring every option to save time and money. The world is supposed to be shrinking with technology, so let’s use that to our advantage.
We agree with the decision of councilmen Dalton, Smith and Whatley and the mayor to question a blanket change for city staffers and council members.
Every time you drive in to Atlanta, Athens or Forsyth, do you really need a whole night of rest before traveling back? Hotels can be expensive, and if you stay overnight you could easily put two extra meals on the city’s tab. We seriously doubt that many area businesses, whose taxes and utility payments support the city, have similar policies.
We have a few simple suggestions. If a multi-day class ends later than 10 p.m., then a hotel stay might be justified, particularly if training resumes the next morning. If there is no class the next day, no hotel stay should be granted, unless the class is ending at or after midnight. If an employee truly fees unsafe driving, he or she should be able to call a manager on a case-by-case basis. We imagine all of the above scenarios would rarely come into play.
Specific issues need to be clearly articulated, so specific solutions can be derived. A blanket policy change could end up costing the city unnecessary money.
Employees deserve to be treated well, but this is one benefit we don’t think needs to be given. In fact, in this new modern age of technology, we could more easily see the council wanting to increase the minimum mileage requirement for one-day classes as part of an overhaul.