Junk the junkets (Valles)

Over the last few weeks, I have been examining the credit card statements of our Town Council members. And in the upcoming weeks, I am going to share with you some of the things that have caught my eye.

We spend thousands of dollars per year to send our elected officials on out of town trips. It all adds up.

You have membership dues or registration fees. Then you have to reserve the fancy hotels that cost hundreds of dollars per night. Don’t forget to book the flights. Oh, and then we have the airport parking and transportation services. And of course, our public servants need to eat, too!

There are so many questions. Like, why do all five members of the Council need to go to the same event? Can’t someone take notes? Sheesh!

And how do we the taxpayers even know if these events provide real value and not just some excuse to get together, drink and party on our dime?

Take the League of California Cities for example. According to its website, it is “an association of California city officials who work together to enhance their knowledge and skills, exchange information and combine resources so that they may influence policy decisions that affect cities.” Each town or city pays dues based on its population size, which is interesting because, as I have mentioned before, our town leaders don’t seem to feel the same way about putting cops on the streets. We haven’t had an increase in our deputy patrol count for about a decade now. But I digress.

Apple Valley pays approximately $20,000 a year to this organization to cover membership dues. Then there are several subject-specific conferences and seminars that it hosts throughout the year, including an annual conference each September. Registration for the annual conference is more than $500 per person. The hotel is more than $600 per person. Flights are $300 each, plus parking, shuttles, cabs and meals.

Do Apple Valley taxpayers really need to pay $10,000 to send five elected officials to the same conference? And I haven’t looked, but I bet some senior staff are also attending these as well. Stay tuned.

Source: Angela Valles, Apple Valley Review