The county's top economic development official refused to allow the county to reimburse him for a business lunch that the commissioners last week said violated their policy against paying for meals shared by county employees.

James C. Threatte on Wednesday presented the commissioners with a check for $25.80 to cover the cost of a lunch he had at a Westminster restaurant with Superintendent R. Edward Shilling.

When Threatte originally submitted the expense for reimbursement,the budget and finance offices declined to accept it. The commissioners last Monday agreed to pay the tab but were to tell Threatte it would be the last such tab they would pay.

"It just didn't occur to me that he (Shilling) was considered a county employee," Threatte said last week. "You have lunch, you discuss business, I consider that abusiness lunch. If I had known this was against the policy, I never would have submitted it."

The County Commissioners about six months ago imposed a policy forbidding county employees to write off lunches they share with other county employees.

Threatte said that he has clipped a newspaper article about the expense flap and sent it to Shilling with a note saying, "Ed, next time, you buy."

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