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Cary's Council Faces Criticism for Out-of-Town Retreat

Posted March 4, 2007
Updated March 5, 2007

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— Cary’s Town Council will head to Wilmington for three days later this month to discuss economic development and other issues at its upcoming annual retreat. But the $14,000 trip, footed by taxpayers, is angering some residents who want the meeting held in town.

Business owner Don Frantz attended the council's last three retreats in Southern Pines. He thinks Wilmington is too far away.

“It’s contradictory to me when you say you want to encourage citizen involvement, then you hold a council retreat 2-1/2 hours away,” Frantz said.

But Cary Mayor Ernie McAlister sees it differently.

“If we were going somewhere 4 or 5 hours away, I think it’d be harder to justify,” he said. “We’re certainly not doing that. This is well within distance that folks can get to.”

Besides, McAlister said, it pays to step away from daily operations of the town and get a change of scenery.

Cary's not the only town that travels for its retreat.

In the past four years, Garner has gone to Wrightsville Beach and Holly Springs has traveled to Southern Pines. Morrisville goes out of town every other year. This year, the council went to Greensboro. In 2005, they went to Wilmington.

But in the Triangle, Durham and Chapel Hill have their retreats in town. Raleigh’s city council hasn’t gone on a retreat since 2001. But when they did, members met in the capital city. One meeting spot was the State Museum of Art.

If Cary officials want a change of scenery, they should consider meeting at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Cary or the Cary Senior Center, Frantz said.

Dave Forvendel, another Cary resident who attends town council meetings, said he won't be traveling to the Wilmington Hilton, where the retreat is being held March 16-18.

"Frankly, I'd like to see the hotel and meal tax be spent here in Wake County, instead of in Wilmington," he said.

Getting away may be the goal, but as the town council is finding out, it's tough to escape criticism.

Among the many agenda items, Cary town council members and staff plan to discuss infrastructure, transportation and open space.

New to this year's agenda: Wake school board members and county commissioners will be meeting with council members to talk about reassignment and growth.

41 Comments

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  • fsuincary Mar 5, 2007

    Frantz is running for office. He's starting his campaign already.

  • El Doggo Mar 5, 2007

    Oh, you mean tens thousands of dollars or more paid to the Chamber of Commerce? Tens of thousands of dollars or more paid to the League of municipalities? Tens of thousands of dollars or more paid to state lobbyists for fighting against citizens' wishes. Tens of thousands of dollars or more paid as retainers for lawyers to fight lawsuits brought about by really BAD engineering and or decisions?

    You mean those kinds of suprizes????

  • mslisac363 Mar 5, 2007

    Cary should look at some of the other ways their tax money is being sent. The town people would be surprised.

  • wrkmnjnc Mar 5, 2007

    It's those arrogant, unreasonable, self-serving "transplants" from other parts of the country who got themselves rulers of Cary. As a Cary resident and taxpayer, I am angry and resentful that they would squander our tax money on a vacation. There are plenty of places they could meet for the day and go home at night, and we wouldn't have to pay for their lodging and food. They could carpool--surely at least three of them could ride together, or they could rent a van and conduct business enroute--so mileage reimbursement would be manageable. If they feel the need for a change of scenery from the mess they have created, they should pay for it themselves. They need to revisit this decision and change their plans.

  • twright530 Mar 5, 2007

    But we are from CARY! Dosent the world revolve around us.

  • spiritwarriorwoman Mar 5, 2007

    “It’s contradictory to me when you say you want to encourage citizen involvement, then you hold a council retreat 2-1/2 hours away,” Frantz said. - AMEN, AMEN!!! It's like making a mess and then stepping away from it rather than hunkering down and cleaning it up yourself. Praying for integrity for all political officials. God bless. Rev. RB

  • valdli Mar 5, 2007

    "Besides, McAlister said, it pays to step away from daily operations of the town and get a change of scenery."

    A "change of scenery" cause they're all getting tired of looking at the orange construction barrels, scraped red clay, piles of what used to be trees, flashing signs, traffic jams, Walgreens and garbage along our streets...

    I'd want to leave town too

  • ncdeb1003 Mar 5, 2007

    Selfish politicians....take the taxpayers money and go on a "retreat" .... call it like it is...a vacation!

  • Irock Mar 5, 2007

    Its cronyism; its McCarthyism; ITS MALFESENCE!

  • ToBar Mar 5, 2007

    Are there going to be any "TALL SHIPS" in Wilmington?!?!?

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