Perk me up 

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The El Paso County Board of County Commissioners has an annual travel budget of $75,000. In the past five years, the five commissioners have spent almost $200,000 on travel. Two other county officials push that amount well above $300,000. How much does this expenditure benefit county taxpayers?

click to enlarge Cecil Jordan
  • Cecil Jordan

Cecil Jordan of Denver works for PBS.

Pay and health benefits aside, what are some job perks you've had? Every now and then, a free lunch.

Has an employer ever sent you on job-related travel? The only professional conference I've gone to, I had to pay every expense myself.

What are some perks you've heard about in other jobs? One of my uncle's friends was sent on trips in a private jet all the time.

What kind of perks do you think local politicians get? Free meals, free travel. Free use of a car.

Hazard a guess as to the annual travel budget for county commissioners. $20,000 a year, total.

In your experience, what is the job benefit of attending professional conferences? They're often held in a vacation-type place; you stay in a nice hotel; meals are provided. You typically don't have to do much more than listen to speeches and attend clinics during the day, and go out on the town to have fun in the evening.

click to enlarge Lacey Lawrence
  • Lacey Lawrence

Lacey Lawrence of downtown is a retired Marine.

Besides pay, health care and pension, what are the best job perks you've had? Free laundry and dry cleaning.

Have you ever traveled on your job? I was sent to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska; to Quantico, Virginia; to the U.S. Consulate in Frankfurt, Germany.

What are some perks you've heard about from other employers? Elaborate expense accounts — dinner, entertaining clients, that kind of thing.

Guesstimate the county commissioner travel budget. $5,000 per commissioner.

How much does it benefit taxpayers for county commissioners to travel to professional conferences? The same benefits could be accomplished without travel via Skype and Internet conferencing.

click to enlarge Rebecca Operhall
  • Rebecca Operhall

Rebecca Operhall of Woodland Hills is a student and mom.

Other than pay, health care and retirement, what are the better job perks you've had? I was a social worker; job perks were few and far between. I had to settle for doing good in the world.

In your experience, what nuts-and-bolts value do professional conferences provide? They're an opportunity to connect with people in your field and learn things you bring back to the job.

What are some primo perks you've heard about in other jobs? Most of the people I've known are social workers, teachers or in the military — jobs that don't have primo perks.

Guess the county commissioners' travel budget. $10,000 a year.


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