Travel Expense Update:
The 2014 Leaders Retreat is coming up in January. Here is an update on the travel expense for that event as provided by the city staff:
Upcoming Chamber Leaders Retreat:
• Registration is $175.00 per person;
• Room Rate is $95.00 per night plus taxes
We anticipate 4 Commissioners, and probably 7 staffers (Total Estimate: $1,925 for registration; $1,045 for hotel = $2,970) This estimate does not include mileage.
Other recent Travel cost for the City:
One of the City Staff and Commissioner Reddi flew to Seattle to attend the National League of Cities Conference (November) cost of $3563.48.
Two Commissioners (Mayor Matta and Rich Jankovich) and the City Manager flew to Washington DC for the AUSA conference - $4,902.
These three events total around $10,390 – tax dollars. The AUSA and the NLC trip are far more expensive than the Leaders retreat. The question is does the expenditure of funds provide any return to the city? The city staff does believe that by participating in the networking activities, the city gets a return. That return however is hard to quantify.
I have not attended the NLC or the AUSA conference. As stated earlier I did attend the last Leaders Retreat at my own expense. I will not attend this year, simply because I did not feel that any tangible gain from the standpoint of city business was/is obtained. They are all great social events. Many folks would say that the travel budget is nothing to be concerned about – after all these three trips are only 10K or so. But, when you add up all the travel it equals over 250K. Some of the travel is valuable and needed for training etc. I am not advocating elimination of all travel, some should be eliminated and some reduced. I do believe that all travel should result in a quantifiable return to the city and should be recorded/documented. We will start a new budget discussion next year. That discussion will quibble over all kinds of dollar amounts. Even 10K is not a small number when it comes to the bottom line -250K is significant.