Travel cost $5,900

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 20, 2009

VIDALIA — Four Vidalia city officials spent approximately $5,900 in Washington, D.C., last week.

Mayor Hyram Copeland, City Manager Ken Walker, Riverfront Administrator H.L. Irvin and Vidalia Conference Center Events Coordinator Jenny Branton made the three-day trip to the nation’s capital for the yearly El Camino Commission meeting in Washington, D.C.

The city does not have a travel policy, and so before the trip the costs are estimated and those attending are given a certain amount of money, City Clerk Vicki Byrnes said.

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Copeland was given $2,500, while the other three delegates were given $2,000.

All four delegates returned money to the city after the trip. Copeland returned $841.36, Irvin returned $496.10, Walker gave back $607.54 and Branton’s return totaled $653.08.

The bulk of the expenses were for hotel rooms at the Phoenix Park Hotel, for which Branton, Copeland and Irvin spent $855, and Walker spent $867.25.

The Phoenix Park Hotel was the chosen hotel for the El Camino Commission, Walker said.

“That is where all of the delegates were staying,” Walker said.

The next biggest bulk of the expenses was for transportation, including plane tickets and taxi fares.

Copeland spent $366.99 on plane tickets and $206 on taxi fares.

Irvin’s plane expenses totaled $360, and his taxi costs amounted to $174.

Walker’s plane tickets came at a cost of $287.19 and he claimed a total of $37 in taxi fares.

Branton spent $360.20 on plane tickets and $51.25 on taxi fares.

For meals, Copeland spent a total of $173.92, Irvin bought $70,60 in food, Walker spent $136.02 and Branton ate $80.47 worth of meals.

Walker’s meal ticket was higher than Branton and Irvin’s because he ate breakfast every morning.

The largest meal ticket was for $94.02 at The Dubliner, a tab with several meals that Copeland paid.

No other meal claim exceeded $25.

“We tried to be very reasonable in everything that we did,” Walker said.

The costs presented by the Vidalia delegation are similar to those they have presented her in the past, Byrnes said.