06/14/05 — Bell says aloha to Hawaii trip

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Bell says aloha to Hawaii trip

By Barbara Arntsen
Published in News on June 14, 2005 1:48 PM

Commissioner John Bell will not attend the annual convention of the National Association of County Commissioners in Honolulu in July.

Bell canceled his trip Monday.

He was not available for comment by presstime today.

Three other commissioners, plus the board's clerk, are still planning to attend the convention.

Commissioners Bud Gray, Andy Anderson, Chairman J.D. Evans and Clerk Marcia Wilson will spend four days on the trip, which comes as commissioners ponder a possible 7.5-cent increase in the county's property tax rate.

Commissioner Atlas Price had signed up to attend the convention, but canceled his trip last month.

The county has already paid $1,300 for plane tickets for Price and Bell, which is non-refundable. They could reimburse the county for the tickets, if they decide to use the ticket for a personal trip.

The entire trip will cost Wayne taxpayers about $9,000.

Evans has said he believes it is important the county be represented at the conference. Attending the work sessions will help commissioners make better decisions on a variety of issues, he said.

Gray, who is in his first year on the board, has said he believes it is important for him to attend so he can learn more about the job. Plans for the trip were made in February, he said, before he understood the financial difficulties commissioners are facing.

Gray has said he would be willing to pay his own way to the convention, if necessary.

Anderson has consistently attended the national conventions, and said they are worth the expense, "if you go and really take advantage of all the sessions."

Anderson is scheduled to stay at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa for $195 per night, but he said he won't be charged the highest amount because he is a Hilton Club member. If the amount is higher than the other hotels, he said he will pay the difference.

Evans, Gray and Ms. Wilson each have booked a room at the Sheraton Waikiki at a cost of $185 per night.

About 4,000 people are expected to attend the conference, which will be July 15-19.