Council President Calixto Torres said Tuesday that Democratic Majority Leader rJo Winch's city-paid trip to Texas for a conference of the National League of Cities cost $2,600 - not $1,400, as Winch said twice this week.
The trip cost $280 for the flight, $800 for registration and workshops, and $1,500 for hotel, Torres said. Torres said Winch's accounting didn't include travel or conference costs.
The news, and the correct cost of the trip, was first reported by blogger Kevin Brookman.
But Torres, a Democrat, defended the travel and the expenditure of city money.
"The same question comes up over and over and over again, year after year after year," Torres said. "These national conferences allow for municipal leadership...to get together, network, talk about ideas, talk about best practices, try to affect national policy. It's the way the nation communicates."
"I respectfully disagree," said fellow Democratic Councilman Kenneth Kennedy in an interview Tuesday. "It sends the wrong signal...when you have government that is struggling to the degree that we are with our finances."
Kennedy said the council approved the concept of emergency-only travel in its most recent budget.
"This is not an emergency," Kennedy said. "While there may be some benefits derived from it, with all due respect, I have yet really to see it. And it's obviously not sending the right signal to our workers that we share in this with you."
UPDATE: Winch also called Cityline back and left a message correcting her original number.
"The numbers that I gave you did not include the hotel," Winch said. "It's my responsibility to call back and correct the mistake."