Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct who version of this story misstated who attended a Sacramento dinner.
After months of public demand for financial transparency, the Ventura City Council on Monday will consider a review of city officials' travel and credit card expenditures and an independent audit of them.
The review and audit came after a City Council trip to Washington D.C. last year when five council members traveled to the National League of Cities Conference. The trip, which was not properly placed on an agenda and included discussions about city issues, was a violation of a state's open meeting law.
Mayor Sofia Rubalcava and Councilmembers Joe Schroeder, Jeannette Sanchez-Palacios, Lorrie Brown and Doug Halter — together a majority — attended the conference with City Manager Alex McIntyre.
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McIntyre later apologized for giving the council bad advice about a trip that led to the violation.
In late July, Ventura resident Glenn Overley brought up the issue of McIntyre paying for meals and wine with a state-issued credit card for local agencies on a separate League of Cities conference trip in Sacramento.
McIntyre used the credit card to pay for an eight-person meal on Sept. 23, 2021 in Sacramento. He shared the meal with councilman Schroeder, four other city employees and two Thousand Oaks officials.
McIntyre spent $323 for the meal, $115 for a bottle of wine and $234.60 for tip. In total, including taxes, the meal was about $711.
"The use of the...card to purchase wine and the unusually high gratuity should be further investigated to determine if that is within policy," Overley wrote to city officials.
In an email written to City Council members on Aug. 17, McIntyre acknowledged the city had received emails from community members voicing concern about the misuse of public funds.
"Based on these emails, I believe that unfounded accusations are being made," McIntyre wrote.
He informed the City Council he later reimbursed the city for the wine. He also wrote to council that overtipping at the dinner was an "honest mistake" because he did not realize gratuity was already included.
"Going forward, city staff will reevaluate the city's existing travel policy and meeting expenses policy, which was last updated in November 2018," McIntyre wrote.
Council members will discuss approving the financial policy review and a forensic audit at 6 p.m. Monday at City Hall.
At a Sept. 12 City Council meeting, Councilman Mike Johnson asked for an "open, thorough and independent investigation" into the credit card issue.
Two days later, he elaborated in a Twitter post.
"The public is fed up (and) I'm fed up. I'm worried Ventura is on a bad road," Johnson tweeted. "There's more we must do for checks/balances (and) transparency."
This article originally appeared on Ventura County Star: Ventura City manager credit card use spurs policy review