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9/8/2013 6:00:00 AM
Watson: Kingman taxpayers came out ahead on expenses for state conference
Janet Watson
Janet Watson

Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - With topics ranging from writing a competitive grant application to the Affordable Health Care Act, there was plenty of learning to do at this year's annual Arizona League of Cities and Towns conference in Oro Valley outside of Tucson.

Mayor Janet Watson and Council members Larry Carver, Erin Cochran, Richard Anderson and Mark Wimpee attended the three-and-a-half day conference. Councilwoman Carole Young was the only one not to attend.

Three teenagers who belong to the Youth Advisory Commission also attended. They had a youth conference to attend and were chaperoned.

Interim City Manager and Fire Chief Chuck Osterman and two employees with the City Clerk's office also attended.

City Attorney Carl Cooper attended and the cost came out of his department budget, not the general fund.

"This is the one and only league meeting of the year," said Watson. "This is how you get in the know. This is the eighth year I've attended the conference and this one, in my opinion, was the best ever. I think all of us learned helpful, useful information."

Watson and her colleagues on the Council attended as many seminars as possible.

"There were five of them going on at a time," she said. "Most were inspirational and most were meaningful for me."

The new mayor and veteran councilwoman said the most important seminar she attended was one that taught how to build and maintain effective relationships between mayors, city council members and city managers.

She said she also learned how some cities are "thinking outside the box."

One city did away with its commissions and instead holds occasional town hall-type meetings to get feedback from residents. She doubts Kingman will attempt this as its many commissions provide a valuable service.

Another city installed a special phone number residents can call when they see something amiss, such as a Dumpster fire or a broken water main, and report it.

The caller can then track his or her call to see what action is taken.

Watson said it cost taxpayers $290 for each adult to attend the conference and $60 for the three youth commissioners, for a total of $2,500.

The city was offered a budget-friendly $99 per room night at a total cost for adults of about $2,380 and less than $600 for the youth commissioners.

The cost to attend the conference includes most meals, and a per diem was provided for those meals not covered and travel expenses.

Watson said the funds to pay for the conference were set aside in the training and travel line item in the general budget.

"It was worth it," she said. "This training allows all of us to do a better job, I think, and that's what people in Kingman want us to do."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

The comments and the Ask the Editor letter just kill me.

Every executive (which council is, like it or now), middle management, healthcare, education, counseling, etc, etc position needs continuing education and is normally included in any budget.

The numbers are right in the article and adding a $.50 per mile per diem plus a few dollars (maybe $25?) for meals should get you close.

Why was no one complaining about Ron Walker with his huge allowance for professional publications, conferences, and meetings.

Yeah, lets keep our officials completely out of the loop in training and laws...makes perfect sense.

Posted: Friday, September 13, 2013
Article comment by: Janet, We Want Just One Number - The Grand Total

These conferences are for the most part mini-vacations paid for by the tax payers. They are often orchestrated by a group that is trying to "sell" their position, product, or recruit followers. Those attending know it's an opportunity to vacation and some honestly have a desire to learn and make connection that will help our town. However, I suspect of the dozen that attended, at least half went to make connections for themselves - network with their peers about job opportunities, find out what new regulation is going to come to Kingman so they can personally benefit. With today's technology there really isn't a need for 12 to attend. We really would like to know the bottom, bottom line of cost - admittance fees, meal, gas, hotel reimbursements, materials purchased, etc. - the grand total to us the payers.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: V Stokes

"Sure glad I don't live in and pay taxes in Kingman." I guess LHC didn't send anyone. Oh...wait...according to the attendee list, yes they did! Exactly the same number not counting the Youth Council, which wasn't mentioned for Kingman or LHC. Except LHC only sent all the high mucky employees.

Sure glad I don't live in or pay taxes in LHC where such information is apparently not made public.

Btw...2min research would have kept you from know.

Posted: Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Twelve people at taxpayers expense for a second rate conference? Sure glad I don't live in and pay taxes in Kingman.

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: L J

Interesting they raise taxes then Watson justifies taxpayers funds for a conference regarding what the amount was.
That really sets and good example!

Posted: Monday, September 9, 2013
Article comment by: Taxpayer Waste

Was it really necessary to send 12 people to this? Couldn't one have gone and reported back? I looked at the agenda for this conference (held at a nice golf resort) and it looked more like an excuse to take a taxpayer-funded vacation to me.

I'd like to see receipts. I'm not just taking Watson's word for it. The meals and mileage alone for 12 people likely totals much more than she would like to let on. Remember this next time the council starts whining about not having enough money.

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: vock canyon

I don't understand why city funds are used. If these folks want to go to confrence let them pay for it out of their wages. that way they can use they can go any time they want and use their vacation time to be there. Time for these kind of expenses to go away. We are paying for these on our sewer bills.

Posted: Sunday, September 8, 2013
Article comment by: Looking For a 3rd Choice for Mayor

Hopefully both Janet Watson and Richard Anderson learned from the seminar that Watson called, "...the most important seminar ... taught how to build and maintain effective relationships between council members...." I've notice over the last few council meeting Watson and Anderson go at it like 2 tigers in a small cage. We all realize both are going to run for mayor but it is very unbecoming of both these individuals and the positions they hold. If the mayor isn't able to improve that working relationship, I for one will be looking for a 3rd candidate for mayor.

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