Mayor Jim Newberry plans to reimburse Commerce Lexington for a free flight he received on the organization's chartered plane to attend its leadership program in Pittsburgh.
Newberry flew there on Monday morning, delivered a speech and then left that afternoon, returning to Lexington on a commercial flight. The city paid $192 for his return ticket, said spokeswoman Susan Straub.
In consideration for his attendance and speech, Commerce Lexington had allowed the mayor to travel for free to Pittsburgh on the organization's chartered plane, Straub said.
However, Commerce Lexington lobbies the mayor and Urban County Council, which raised the question of whether the mayor's free flight violated the city's ethics ordinance.
"To avoid any confusing questions or controversy about the issue, the mayor's office will reimburse Commerce Lexington $100, half of the $200 round-trip airfare charged to other meeting participants who traveled on the charter," Straub said Friday.
The city's law department said the ordinance allows government officials to recover transportation costs if the expense is incurred in connection with a speech, "as this was," Straub said. "The fact that Commerce Lexington lobbies local government really plays no role here since this was not a gift."