Augusta city employees head to Disneyland at taxpayers' expense

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News 12 at 6 o'clock/ Thursday, June 5, 2014

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta-Richmond County is millions in the hole and soon Commissioners will begin to tackle the budget.

Meanwhile, we're learning some Augusta employees are in California at Disneyland on the taxpayer's dime. They're at a hotel for technology training, but that's not sitting well with some.

The Disneyland Hotel and Resort is home to at least 10 city employees for a week. They are just minutes away from the Disneyland Theme Park. It's known as the happiest place on earth, but Commissioner Marion Williams sure isn't happy.

"What kind of training? Is this the only training available? Who approved employees to go on that trip," asked Commissioner Williams.

Interim City Administrator Tameka Allen said the Commission approved the city budgets which include money for trips.

"It's annual training. It gives them the opportunity to see where the vendor is taking the system," Allen said.

Allen said the SUGA 2014 conference is the only national training available for Integrated Fund Accounting System (IFAS) used county-wide.Employees from the city's IT, Human Resources, Procurement and DBE department went for the five day training session.

Taxpayers we talked to didn't seem to mind employees mixing a little business and pleasure.

"We're going to Las Vegas on our convention. It's for training and meetings and we are going to have fun as well," taxpayer Linda Fulcher said.

"We go on trips with the company and they are business oriented trips. At night, we all get together and have a little fun," taxpayer David Kitchens said.

The conference website estimates the cost of the conference held at the Disneyland Hotel is at $1,900. If you multiply that by the ten employees that went, you'll get an estimated overall cost of $19,000.

City employees aren't the only one's training on the taxpayer dime. A News 12 investigation found a yearly Savannah trip for eight commissioners and the mayor cost the city $14,000.

Commissioners Alvin Mason, Marion Williams, Bill Fennoy, and Corey Johnson spent $12,000 for a trip to Fort Worth, Texas. City officials will question employees that went on the trip during Monday's committee meetings.

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