Council hacks away at travel budget

Vernon politicians won’t be hitting the road as much.

Vernon politicians won’t be hitting the road as much.

As part of the proposed 2011 financial plan, the budget for council conventions and travel has been chopped by $3,000.

“The amount left gives us enough money to attend the conferences we have to,” said Coun. Mary-Jo O’Keefe.

The budget originally called for $18,000 but it is now $15,000.

O’Keefe believes it’s necessary to reduce parts of the overall 2011 budget as a way of decreasing the tax burden during challenging financial times.

In 2010, there was $22,613 for travel and conventions.

Council has given Mayor Wayne Lippert approval to attend the Local Government Leadership Academy’s third annual chief elected official forum in Vancouver March 17 to 18.

“This is for mayors and regional district chairpersons,” said Lippert.

“There’s a chance to see how we stand with other communities. There’s a lot of work done and they keep you pretty busy.”

The cost for the leadership program is $360, and with flights, Lippert expects the final bill could be $500 to $600.

Although the city is trying to keep costs down and many residents are experiences financially, Lippert insists such a conference is a good use of money.

“It gives us a chance to network and discuss issues we face as communities and to look at solutions,” he said.

“We can come back and implement cost savings or services we can provide.”

O’Keefe also defends the need for taxpayer-funded travel to conferences and meetings with senior government officials.

“You lose the ability to find out about new initiatives and you don’t know where to apply for grants,” she said.

“There’s a time and place where councillors have to go and be informed about various issues so they can be better governors.”