We appreciate the restraint that four Greenville City Council members exhibited last week when they decided to forgo spending the city's money on travel to the Mississippi Municipal League's annual conference in Biloxi in June.
Three will not attend; Ward 1 Councilman Kenny Gines, Ward 3 Councilman Lee Owen, and Ward 5 Councilwoman Ann Hollowell. Ward 2 Councilman Carl McGee will travel at his own expense, although not a huge expense as he explained later.
He has access to housing accommodations there.“There's no halo over my head,” he quipped.
Ward 4 Councilwoman Betty Watkins will attend, but because of her retirement status she already saves the city $6,000 per year, as she explained during the council meeting at which the trip was discussed.
Ward 2 Councilman Errick Simmons was absent from the meeting and his name remained on the list of those attending. Mayor Heather McTeer Hudson also will attend and urged the others to do the same, but they were not swayed.
In this time of tightening budgets, up and down sales tax revenue returns, and economic hardships, it's good to know that our City Council representatives are thinking ahead to a time when they may have to ask city employees to make sacrifices as well. They are leading by example.
It's not as if MML conferences are without merit. Members of city councils and boards of aldermen from around the state attend this conference each year to network, but more important, to educate elected city officials.“The league represents the collective interests of cities and towns to the state legislature, provides timely information on crucial municipal issues, offers certification and training for elected officials and provides valuable networking opportunities,” according to its Web site at http://www.mmlonline.com/.
We recognize the value of this opportunity, but we also are grateful to those who will save the city several thousands of dollars by not attending this year.
Everyone knows that these "conferences" are part work and part vacation; otherwise they wouldn't be held in resort areas. Can you imagine the statewide attendance if the conference were being held in Greenville, which is far more centrally located than Biloxi?
In private organizations, when they need to cut costs on travel, they send one or two representatives to the conference. In return, they are charged with presenting the information attained to the entire leadership group. Most conferences offer free PowerPoint presentations to facilitate the sharing of education provided. You eliminate hotel, travel and meal costs, but still get the training.
The days of "perk" trips are over. If the city can't afford garbage pick-up twice a week, they shouldn't be spending $7,500 on travel/training when there are more cost effective ways to accomplish the same goal. In an economic crisis, everyone needs to cut back a little. I commend the council-members who declined to "feed at the trough". As for our mayor... drop us a postcard!