Priceville Council spending $2,400 for Huntsville trip
By Ronnie Thomas
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PRICEVILLE — It's Priceville's version of "Travelgate." But call it "Huntsvillegate."
During its meeting a week ago, members of the Town Council approved $2,400 for registration, lodging and other travel expenses for themselves, Mayor Melvin Duran, Deputy Clerk Linda Duran and Town Clerk Kelly Dean to attend the Alabama League of Municipalities convention at Huntsville's Von Braun Center on April 21-24.
Councilmen Tim Crow and John Oakley voted no, saying that Huntsville is too close for overnight lodging.
The mayor defended the lodging expenses. He said he and his wife, Linda, would need a room for three nights, as would Dean. He said Councilman Wayne Dunkin would need a room for two nights.
Linda Duran said she and her husband will drive over April 20 for him to attend a board meeting of the Alabama Municipal Insurance Corp.
Melvin Duran said also that he will be seeking the vice presidency of the league.
Dean said Thursday that the league convention rotates among Huntsville, Montgomery, Birmingham and Mobile, and that she usually reserves seven rooms for the mayor, council members and herself.
She said she normally books early and reserved four rooms Sept. 26 at The Embassy, next door to the VBC.
"I got the last four rooms," she said. "We may not use all of them. In fact, it is likely that I won't use mine because of caring for my 2-month-old baby. When we've finalized the exact number of rooms, sometimes before I release any extras, I'll phone neighboring cities to see if they need rooms."
Dean said registrations made by March 9 are $300. The $2,400 the council approved covers eight registrations.
"We should know by our next meeting (Feb. 22) who all will be attending," she said.
Dean said the rate for the rooms is $169 per night, without tax.
She said officials receive 48.5 cents per mile for personal automobile expenses. She estimates the average round-trip mileage to the convention to be about 60 miles, a cost $29.10 per round trip.
"For those three days with sessions, workshops and other activities scheduled throughout the day and evening, I would envision several back-and-forth trips," she said. "That is why that, for everything considered, I think the cost of the rooms for an event such as this and what our officials get from it is money well spent."
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