Garden Inn in Athens where the commission rented a boardroom for their annual planning advance on Sunday, October 13th.
It is a far cry from what the Metro Spirit dug up four years ago.
In April of 2015, The Metro Spirit reported on a trip to Savannah that included Columbia County commissioners, along with the county’s department directors and many of their spouses.
The purpose for the trip was a planning advance workshop with department heads, as well as training for commissioners at the 2015 Annual Conference of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia.
The planning advance workshop was about three hours long, but the night before the meeting, the majority of commissioners, department heads and many of their spouses dined out at Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
Columbia County taxpayers picked up the $3,571 dinner tab that night.
The total for just the lodging in Savannah amounted to about $10,000.
As a result, taxpayers spent almost $14,000 on that one trip to Savannah.
Columbia County Commissioner Doug Duncan, who had just been sworn into office in January, was troubled by the trip’s expenses. “Well, I can only speak for myself, but I paid for my own hotel room,” Duncan told the Metro Spirit in 2015.
Duncan said he and his wife attended the dinner at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, but he was unaware of the total bill or who picked up the tab.
Duncan continued, explaining that he insists on paying for his hotel expenses, gas and food whenever he travels for the county. “In fact, I haven’t used a county credit card at all. I’m not even sure if it’s activated. I pay for my own room, travel and board. I pay for everything myself.”
Chairman Ron Cross said at the time, “So, as far as the total expense every year, I don’t think we are out of line with it.”
Apparently his fellow commissioners did as evidenced by the tab of less than $600 for this years advance.
These off site get-togethers are useful, team building exercises which make a lot of sense. While the practice may have been abused in the past, with proper notice to the public the gatherings are legal and productive.