Metro taxpayers foot $20K bill for council trip to Boston - WSMV Channel 4

Metro taxpayers foot $20K bill for council trip to Boston

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

More than a dozen Metro Council members are in Boston this week on a trip for which the taxpayers paid nearly $20,000.

Some council members are quick to point out the money for the trip is in the budget, and those going will come back with valuable information, but at least one council member says the trip may benefit his colleagues' ego more than help the city.

Thirteen Metro Council members are attending the National League of Cities conference.

"This is one of the few organizations that exist where council members can go to learn how to be more effective," said Councilman Phil Claiborne.

Three of the council members decided to pay their own way, but for the others, taxpayers are paying roughly $1,000 for a four-night hotel stay, about $300 for each council member's flight and $500 for their registrations.

Claiborne has attended in the past and said the trip does not bother him.

"I think that's money well spent in terms of what these people will learn and benefit and be able to bring back to our body," he said.

However, not everyone agrees these city leaders made the right choice.

"We just took a property tax increase, and now we're spending money as if we have it to spend on things that we shouldn't be spending it on. There's so many other things that need to be done in this city," said Councilman Robert Duvall.

It's not the first time a council trip has caused concern. In 2008, Nashville taxpayers spent $20,000 to fly 12 council members to Orlando for the same organization's conference.

At the time, the council was supposed to be cutting back on travel, but for this trip to Boston, they say the money is in the council's budget.

"People can always find a reason to naysay about any kind of event, especially when it costs money," Claiborne said.

"The school may be more of a benefit to somebody's ego than it is to any practical use for the city," Duvall said.

Duvall added that because council members now have term limits, it especially does not make sense for those to go on the trip who only have a year or two left in office.

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