In unusual move, Charlotte City Council sits out Chamber trip

In an usual move, the entire Charlotte City Council has decided not to attend the Charlotte Chamber’s annual inter-city trip, which will be in Nashville, Tenn.

Council members recently approved a budget that raises property taxes and also enacts more than $7 million in budget cuts, which include small reductions to police and fire department allocations and the elimination of weekend hours for the 311 call center. After the budget vote – and with city elections in the fall – the idea of a high-profile trip didn’t seen appealing.

“We are trying to be frugal with money since we are asking other people to do so,” said council member Ed Driggs.

Driggs was signed up for the trip, but has since decided not to attend. He said there is a National League of Cities meeting later this year in Nashville, and council members could visit some of the city’s sites and meet with officials then.

The city will be represented on the June 24-26 trip. City Manager Ron Carlee is attending, and interim aviation director Brent Cagle may also go.

Mayor Dan Clodfelter is not on a list to make of attendees.

The trip is designed to give public officials and business leaders a chance to see innovations in other cities, as well as for a chance to network. Last year, eight of 11 council members went on the Chamber trip, to Minneapolis.

“We intentionally cut back this year, though I think it's a valuable opportunity to brainstorm ideas with other community and business leaders,” Carlee said in an email.

Earlier this year, council members approved a plan to cut $100,000 from their budget for incidental expenses, which includes their annual budget retreat in February. They rejected a proposal to limit their travel expenses to $5,000 per council member.

Last year’s trip cost $3,150 per person.

Ann Clark, superintendent of Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, is going, according to a list of attendees on the Chamber’s website.

County Manager Dena Diorio is attending, according to the list. Four Mecklenburg County commissioners are slated to attend.

Harrison: 704-358-5160