Though it was brought up during the election, the Grass Valley City Council still remains clueless about transparency when it comes to the group’s travel costs. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting, there’s a consent item to approve a travel budget for trainings and conferences @ League of California Cities, plus $550 in dues plus a 10 percent “surcharge” for the League’s litigation.
Not a word about the projected cost for the training, conferences and travel, though this routinely appears on other agenda items, including sending a firefighting staffer to grant writing school in Tucson, Ariz., for $825 (also on the agenda and also worth questioning).
Let’s hope the Council pulls the item from the consent calendar to set an example for “fiscal conservatism” and discuss:
1. The cost and details for spending it. How it compares to the past and why it went over budget in the past. There are costs for the courses ($550 and more). $35 for “spouse reception.” Do the Council members commute or stay in a hotel? Etc.
2. Why it’s needed. Other cities are scaling back these costs with the economic slowdown.
3. Whether there are less costly alternatives, including web-based learning and teleconferences. Nevada City educated two incoming council members largely in-house. Why isn’t the League embracing this too? Also wonder if the League is as revelant as it once was; the “redevelopment money” handout era is gone.
4. Whether the City has learned it’s no longer “business as usual” in this new economic era. One man’s “conference” is another man’s “junket.” We’ve all been to them, but corporate America is cutting back. Is Grass Valley going to get out of the box?
This is exactly what people feared with passage of a sales tax measure. That it would be seen as a mandate for “business as usual.” It borders on arrogant.
The memo is here:
Recommended action: Authorize travel for City Council for League of California Cities sponsored training
and conferences for remainder of FY 12/13.
service on the League of California Cities Sacramento Valley Division and League Policy Committee work and meetings as required.
Background information: With the election of new Councilmembers, this item authorizes the continued participation in the Leagues training programs, legislative action days and activities related to policy committee work. New councilmember and mayor training will be held in January. Adequate funds are available for the travel. The involvement of Council Members and staff with the League of California Cities provides the opportunity to participate in state wide policy committees, meetings with legislators, and to share and exchange ideas for enhancing city services.
Member Arbuckle will also have travel expenses related to service in representing the City at the League’s Sacramento Valley Division meetings and on League Policy Committees and task force(s).
Funds Available: Yes Account #: 5035-3040 /5270-3090
Approve travel and related expenses for City Council Member(s) and to attend the League of Cities Training, Legislative Action days and for travel expenses related to duties
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