NACo conference costs Gloucester taxpayers over $4,000

by Quinton Sheppard - Posted on Aug 11, 2010 - 02:58 PM

It cost Gloucester County just over $4,000 to send two county officials to a National Association of Counties (NACo) conference in Reno, Nevada, last month.

According to county finance records, Gloucester County paid $1,972.85 to send county administrator Brenda Garton and another $2,215.21 to send Gregory Woodard, Ware District representative to the Gloucester County Board of Supervisors, to the conference.

Woodard exceeded a cap of $1,500 on annual travel expenses per supervisor with the latest trip. The board voted 4-2 in April to trim each individual board member’s budget for travel. Those voting against were Gloucester Point District supervisor Bobby Crewe and At-Large supervisor Michelle Ressler. Woodard was absent from that meeting.

At that same meeting the board voted, per Ressler’s request, to allow any board member to allocate any of their leftover budgets to another board member.

Crewe and Abingdon District supervisor Christian "Buddy" Rilee both agreed to a request from Woodard to share part of their travel budgets with him, according to county spokesperson Christi Lewis.

It cost the county $490 for Woodard and $465 for Garton to register for the conference; airfare for Garton was $692.70 and for Woodard, was $570.50. Lodging and meals for Woodard cost the county $1,129.71 and for Garton, $1,231.29. Garton did reimburse the county $336.12 for miscellaneous expenses, which may have included some meals.

According to a NACo press release, economic recovery and how counties can do more with less during these tough times were the major themes of the conference that was held July 16-20.

The release stated conference participants attended a variety of sessions to gain deeper understanding of issues affecting county government. Examples included health reform implementation; Gulf oil spill response and effects on counties; growing green economies and innovative energy efficiency efforts; and leveraging federal funding for community-wide energy efficiency.

Other sessions explored criminal justice efficiency efforts; using technology to enhance court operations; county consolidation, job restructuring, and regional partnerships.