City Council will vote on conference costs for review board

Monday, May 3, 2010 | 2:08 p.m. CDT; updated 10:43 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, May 5, 2010

This story has been modified to correct the total amount of money the Citizen Review Board is seeking for conference expenses.

COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council is scheduled to vote tonight to pay for two members of the Citizens Police Review Board to attend a conference in Seattle.

The four-day National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement conference is Sept. 20 to 24. According to a previous Missourian article, the board has requested $4,040 to send two representatives. Mayor Bob McDavid, who pledged to spend less on traveling and conferences in his campaign platform, suggested sending one representative for $2,020.

Here is an estimate of the cost to send one representative to the conference:

  • Registration: If members register early (by July 16), the registration fee is $350 per person.
  • Hotel: Conference attendees can reserve rooms at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel for $159.00 per night, plus an estimated 15.6 percent tax. For a four night stay, that is $735.20 per person.
  • Airfare: If the board member flies out of the Kansas City airport Sept. 19 and returns on Sept. 23 following the conclusion of the conference at noon, an estimated cost of airfare for the cheapest Southwest Airlines flight available online is $139 each way, not including tax. Additional government fees and taxes not included in these prices are estimated at an additional cost of $35.40.
  • Car fare: estimates that the distance from Columbia to Kansas City is 144 miles, or a two hour and 17 minute drive. The Bureau of Transportation Statistics lists the average passenger car in the U.S. to have a 22.5 miles per gallon rate, as last calculated in 2007. With this estimated rate, the cost to drive to the airport in a passenger car is $17.32.
  • What's left: So far, the cost to attend the conference is $1,415.92 per person. That leaves $604.08 for food and other expenses. Keep in mind the cost of airfare was the best possible price and the cost of car fare is calculated with an average mile per gallon estimate.

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Tom Warhover May 3, 2010 | 3:22 p.m.

50 cents/mile might be the better car estimate.

According to city code, "Mileage reimbursement for those employees who are occasionally required to drive their own cars will be the current mileage reimbursement rate established by the Internal Revenue Service, subject to reporting procedures established by the city manager."

IRS mileage rate for 2010 is 50 cents.,,i...

So if a car went 288 miles round trip, the cost would $144.

Presumably two people would car pool.

(Report Comment)
Alison Gammon May 3, 2010 | 4:48 p.m.

Thank you for your calculations Tom. I have learned from boardwoman Ellen LoCurto-Martinez that car fare is not factored into the requested funds. According to Martinez, the Citizens Police Review Board is requesting $4,044, not $4,040 as reported in the City Council agenda or $4,400 as reported incorrectly on the Missourian. She will notify the council of the correction to the total cost at tonight's meeting.

Martinez broke down the requested cost of the trip. Per person, the costs are:

-$350 for registration
-$500 for airfare
-$920 for hotel stay (four nights)
-$252 for food ($42 per day, so six days are budgeted)

Martinez said the members would arrive Sept. 19th and leave the 23rd. That means they would only need to budget five days for food, not six. She plans to make the necessary changes to the budget and present a new fund request at tonight's City Council meeting.

(Report Comment)
Allan Sharrock May 3, 2010 | 5:33 p.m.

Is the difference of $4 or even $40 going to really make a difference or warrants a discussion? The discussion should be that is costs too much and we shouldn't be wasting money.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 4, 2010 | 6:31 a.m.

As someone who made his living in part by traveling, domestically and internationally, the difference between $4 and $40 for a trip lasting several days is negligible.

When reviewing expense accounts (or statements) a reviewer would also look for trends: does Joe significantly outspend Janice for similar trips? Billing $10 for the purchase of a copy of USA Today, if such occurred, might raise an eyebrow or two. :)

(Report Comment)

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