Sunday, October 05, 2003

After exposing the VaCo conference, Richmond paper targets VML

In this story, a writer for the Richmond paper reveals that local government officials went to the Virginia Municipal League convention in Norfolk and spent public money on golf and seafood - with 8 people from the town of St. Paul running up a tab of $9,030.69. To add perspective on this sum, the writer notes that "[h]ad Virginia Beach spent proportionally as much as tiny Saint Paul, the city's convention cost would have exceeded $3.78 million."

Comparing the county representatives and their gathering at the Homestead with the city and town officials who met in Norfolk, the paper concludes "the Norfolk conventioneers easily outspent their counterparts at The Homestead by showing up in greater numbers and spending more freely on their spouses, fine food, boat cruises and other extras."

Related articles are here, here, here, and here.

There was no description of what if anything the representatives learned of use from this meeting. Maybe the Town of St. Paul got $10,000 worth of knowledge from the meeting in Norfolk. Sometimes a seminar or convention is worth the money, although such things are impossible to measure. For example, new government officials, like new lawyers and new judges, might need a lot of education and education to get a clue.

There was also no consideration of what if any are the tax implications of these events - can the IRS claim that payments for the travel and entertainment expenses of non-working spouses count as additional income that should be taxed? It says here that "if a spouse, dependent, or other individual goes with you (or your employee) on a business trip or to a business convention, you generally cannot deduct his or her travel expenses," in this IRS publication, but I don't know anything about tax law.

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