Niagara Gazette

Local News

February 20, 2013

CITY SPENDING: Dyster defends travel costs

(Continued)

Niagara Gazette — Dyster said part of the reason he and Owens were gone for nine days is that by combining so many events into one trip they were able to save on travel costs, having only bought one plane ticket each.

“Extending the trip actually gets you more for less travel costs,” he said.

Dyster said he ran for mayor on the premise that he would represent the city on a national level and at these conferences and events he gets the opportunity to interact with people at the highest levels of government to advocate for the Cataract City.

“I told people that I’m the person you want representing you in Albany and Washington,” Dyster said.

Dyster and Owens also attended Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State Address in Albany earlier this year. That trip cost taxpayers a total of $522 for gas, tolls and two rooms at the Hotel Albany.

Any notion that these trips are a vacation for he or Owens is inaccurate, Dyster said. Not only are they working to strengthen contacts and search out funding opportunities, they are handling city business over the phone and Internet.

“You never stop being the mayor,” Dyster said. “You’re on the clock 24/7.”

Councilman Sam Fruscione said he “respects and supports” the mayors interest in traveling to attend conferences like the U.S. Conference of Mayors. 

However, Fruscione said he does not believe Owens should be attending them along with Dyster.

“Her job is not to travel,” he said. “It’s to run the day-to-day operations at City Hall.”

The administration will have less money to spend on travel for conferences in general this year. Membership dues for attending the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the St. Lawrence Seaway Cities Initiative were eliminated, saving a total of $9,300 in 2013.

Editor's note: The Niagara Gazette is taking an in-depth look at the spending habits of top city officials. The third part of the series will appear in Thursday's edition and will take a closer look at another aspect of city spending -- meals enjoyed by city lawmakers and attorneys. Look for the entire series online.

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