Napier mayor's ratepayer-funded trip postponed

By Victoria White -
HOLD OFF: Napier mayor Bill Dalton's US trip will be postponed to coincide with a sister-city celebration. PHOTO/FILE
HOLD OFF: Napier mayor Bill Dalton's US trip will be postponed to coincide with a sister-city celebration. PHOTO/FILE

A ratepayer-funded trip to the United States for Napier mayor Bill Dalton has been postponed, and will have a bigger price tag.

Earlier this month a Napier City Council committee approved Mr Dalton's expenses to travel overseas to research and build relationships for Napier's National Aquarium of New Zealand expansion project.

Sending Mr Dalton to the US was expected to cost up to $6170, to be funded through the National Aquarium Expansion Project budget.

At the time, it was expected there would be two staff members travelling with the mayor. Their costs had not been confirmed but were expected to be similar to Mr Dalton's.

Although the trip was scheduled between March 26 and April 2 it has now been postponed to coincide with a celebration of 150 years of Canadian Government.

Mr Dalton said the council had received "advance notice" they might be invited to a celebration of this event by Napier's sister city in Victoria, British Columbia.

"If we do get invited and go over it would make sense for us to do ... both things with one trip," he said.

When asked how much this would increase the trip's cost, Mr Dalton said costs "may go up a fraction", but would be offset as the group would be hosted by the city.

Despite having the sister-city relationship with Victoria for decades, the first mayoral trip to centre was only made in 2012 - to celebrate the city's 150th anniversary.

Mr Dalton said the celebration was to be held in May. If the trip to Canada did not work out, Mr Dalton said the aquarium trip would remain scheduled for that month.

On the trip he and staff would be visiting, researching and developing partnerships with four facilities between the Monterey Aquarium/Monterey Bay Aquarium, California Academy of Sciences, the Aquarium of the Pacific and Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

When they were approved, Mr Dalton's expenses were expected to cost a total "higher estimate" of $6170. The bulk of that cost - up to $3200 - would be for international flights, up to $2500, and domestic flights, $700.

Estimates put additional costs at $2100 for accommodation, $600 for meals and $270 for car hire. ​

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