Charlotte’s January budget retreat in Raleigh cost nearly $42,000, making it the second-most expensive retreat in the last decade, according to city records.
In odd-numbered years, City Council has traditionally held its four-day budget retreat in Charlotte. In even-numbered years, council members go out of town.
But this year, at-large council member James Mitchell urged council members to reach out to legislators. A council committee voted for the change, and the event was moved to Raleigh – at considerable cost.
The city’s hotel bill at the Hilton North Raleigh was $30,484. That includes the cost of food and renting meeting space.
On the opening night of the retreat, the city held a dinner at Sullivan’s Steakhouse for council and members of the Mecklenburg legislative delegation. That cost $2,526.
Most of the delegation are Democrats, and they often agree with council members on issues such as House Bill 2. Some Republican members of the delegation also attended, such as state Sen. Jeff Tarte and state Sen. Dan Bishop, who said he paid for his dinner.
But breaking bread with the delegation hasn’t yet produced a compromise on the perhaps the city’s biggest issue in Raleigh: repealing HB2.
The city also spent $7,000 on a facilitator for the event.
Before the Raleigh conference, the most expensive retreat since 2008 was the 2012 meeting in Pinehurst. That cost $49,000.
Most out-of-town retreats cost about $36,000.
Retreats held in Charlotte can cost as little as $6,200. That’s how much the city spent in 2015 to hold a retreat at the Duke Endowment Building.