Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe flew to Hawaii for The United States Conference of Mayors' Annual Meeting. Poe and other mayors from across the country are meeting from June 28 to July 1 to discuss a variety of issues such as community development and housing; criminal and social justice; and health and human services, said Gainesville spokesperson Chip Skinner.
This trip will cost $3,723.50 total, Skinner said. Though some believe the mayor should not travel at all during a budget shortfall, Skinner said the city’s summer budget is still being discussed and is not set in stone.
The funding for this travel comes from the training and travel budget, which is allocated for all elected officials and is funded by taxpayers, Skinner said.
“This has been part of the budget, and it is not a trip that has come about on a whim,” Skinner said. “This had been planned, and it is part of his annual travel budget.”
This is not Poe’s first conference, but this one might be easier for him to attend as he was already on the west coast for personal business, Skinner said.
As a taxpayer living in Gainesville, Ayanni Cooper, a 32-year-old UF third-year English doctoral student, said this situation is difficult to define because she can see both sides.
Even though this conference may be beneficial to Poe, it still is not directly affecting the community, said Cooper.
“It could be important for the community to know what the conference is for what's actually being done there,” Cooper said. “What are the concrete things that he brings back from it?”
Poe could not be reached for comment.