Council OKs unbudgeted conference travel; Helt and Gordon vote nay

Helt conference quote
Graphic by BRIAN HUGHES/News Bulletin
Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 at 17:29 PM.

CRESTVIEW — With a 3-2 vote, the City Council approved funding expenses for any interested council member to attend the Florida League of Cities conference in Hollywood.

Council members Robyn Helt and Thomas Gordon opposed the measure, with Helt protesting “the approval of non-budgeted expenditures.”

City Clerk Betsy Roy estimated the cost to attend the Aug. 14-16 event, including staying at the Westin Diplomat conference hotel and $620 mileage reimbursement, would be $1,700 per person.

Councilman Joe Blocker, however, felt Roy’s estimate was low and actual costs to city taxpayers would be closer to $2,000 per attendee.

Helt criticized council members who favored the proposal, saying, “Every council member sitting on the dais today had the opportunity to request a budget” item for conference travel.

“To bring forward (an) item that could potentially cost $2,000 per council member is not in the best interests of the citizens,” Helt said. “If I elect to go, I would not feel comfortable asking the citizens to pay for it.”

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