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Turner reimburses city for travel expenses

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BY THE PACKET

Ward 4 Councilman Marty Turner has paid the city back for about $1,200 in travel expenses.

The Columbus City Council went into executive session for about 45 minutes Tuesday night to discuss Turner’s failure to provide receipts for per diem and expenses for nine trips.

While the city formerly reimbursed travelers upon presentation of receipts, the current policy allows them to be paid in advance. Afterwards travelers present receipts to document what, and how, they spent city funds.

Tuesday night the council voted 4-1 to require Turner to repay the city within a week for travel expenses he had failed to document; Ward 2 Councilman Joseph Mickens cast the dissenting vote, and Ward 1 Councilman Gene Taylor chaired the meeting and did not vote. Turner voted in favor of the motion. If Turner failed to pay, the matter would be handed over to the state auditor’s office.

Turner said he repaid the full amount – some $1,220.

“I would never take advantage of taxpayer dollars,” he said. “I paid the city back (Wednesday) morning.”

Turner said he showed Chief Financial Officer Milton Rawle his bank statement, but the city wouldn’t accept that.

“I didn’t understand that I had to show them the receipts,” he said. “I assumed – and you know assuming makes an ass out of you and me – that the bank statement would be enough. It wasn’t.”

Turner said the receipts had been lost or thrown away.

“My bank records and the amount I spent match almost perfectly,” he said. “I’ll show the bank records to anyone who wants to know. I’m an open book, and I will always tell the truth.”

Turner said that he didn’t go to a Tennessee-Tombigbee Waterway conference in late August after the mayor told him not to.

“I didn’t go to that conference in Point Clear because the mayor told me that I would be reported to the state auditor if I went,” he said. “So I stayed home.”

Turner is no stranger to financial controversy. He is also in arrears thousands of dollars to the state for unpaid taxes, and there have been several complaints filed against him in Lowndes County Justice Court for taking money and not providing goods or services when he owned Turner Furniture.

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