The City of Covington will hold its annual planning retreat at the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center located in the southern part of Newton County.
The retreat will be held from March 17-19. The cost for food and to rent the facility will be a total of $28 per person for the 2.5 day trip, for the six council members and mayor who are staying all three days. For the city employees who are attending only the 18 and 19, the cost will be $26 per person, said Amanda Edge with the human resource department.
Around 13 elected officials and city employees will be attending the retreat, which will put the total cost for the facility and food at $352.
In addition, City Manager Steve Horton and his wife will be paying for a Wednesday night dinner.
“To provide for some level of fellowship and the opportunity for our family members to meet and gain personal insight into the retreat and what it involves, my wife and I will be paying for the dinner. Each elected official can bring their spouse or a guest as can each (city) division director. The two consultants along with my wife and I will also be in attendance,” Horton said in an email.
The retreat was moved to the FFA Camp because of continued public opposition to the original location: Brasstown Valley Resort and Spa. Covington had book a seven rooms for Wednesday night, and 15 a piece for Thursday and Friday. Not all the rooms were necessarily going to be used, but Brasstown employee Pat Griggs said at least 90 percent of the rooms had to be filled, so the cost would have been around $3,500. Food costs would have been extra.
The cancellation fee for the Brasstown reservation was originally $3,924, and the council was hesitant to cancel the retreat at that price. However, when Brasstown agreed to cut the cancellation fee in half to $1,962, the council changed course and cancelled its contract.
The largest cost remains the facilitator, The Centre for Strategic Management out of Conyers, which quoted an initial price of $5,000. Horton previously said he hoped having the retreat locally would reduce the cost of the facilitator as well. He said The Centre for Strategic Management has expressed a willingness to reduce costs, but no final price has been agreed upon.
Personnel Director Ronnie Cowan said previously that the retreat will provide council members with a chance to get to know new Councilman Chris Smith, work together as a team, better understand their role as elected officials and plan their goals for the upcoming 2010 fiscal year budget. The city's budget this fiscal year was $120 million.