Should Birmingham leaders travel during budget crisis?

By Ashley Nix

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - At least one Birmingham city councilor is calling for a moratorium on all out of town travel as  thousands of city dollars have been spent to send councilors and other city employees to Washington D.C., Las Vegas and other cities.  

When asked why she didn't vote "yes" to allocate money for traveling, Carole Smitherman said, "I think some of our travel has been excessive. I don't think we need to send so many people to different places.  Until we can get through the problems were having right now, I just don't think we need to be traveling."

Smitherman said Tuesday, with the city in the midst of a $77 million deficit, travel should halt unless it is an emergency.  

Councilor Valerie Abbott is also not voting "yes" on traveling.

But Councilor Steven Hoyt said no travel means stopping progress.  

"The city still has to move," Hoyt said.  "There are things to be done. We ought to be on a recruiting frenzy in respect to this city and try to bring industry here."

Councilor Jay Roberson didn't agree and said in this economy, saving money and making sacrifices is more important than ever.  

"I will not travel and my staff will not travel until we finalize the budget for the next fiscal year," Roberson said.  

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