Viewpoint: City leaders need to be seen saving money

Albany's city manager recently ordered all departments... even public safety... to cut 10% from their budget proposals for the next fiscal year. With money so tight, we need to have confidence that city leaders are doing all they can not to waste a single dollar. But that confidence is hard to come by.

Here's why. A couple of months ago... five city commissioners travelled to a conference in Atlanta. Nobody carpooled. They all drove separately, and they all turned in mileage that cost the city nearly one thousand dollars.

Then the city held a planning retreat at Lake Blackshear. Once again, there wasn't much carpooling. Every commissioner other than Jon Howard submitted mileage reimbursement requests. So did six other city staffers. Plus, the city spent more than $3,000 for the hotel, meeting rooms, and meals.

Sure, it's nice to get away for a meeting like that, but during these nearly unprecedented economic times, is that a smart decision? What's wrong with meeting for free in a government facility here in Albany? And if they felt like they had to get away . . . why not pack everyone into a couple of city vans for the trip?

The total cost of the retreat was $5,400. In the big scheme of things, it's not that much. But that's not the point. Right now, city leaders need to lead by example. They need to watch every penny, but it's hard to keep your eye on a penny when you're behind the wheel in a convoy rolling out of town.