SPOKANE, Wash. — The trip was meant to be part of an effort to learn about sustainability and green cities, but it's been causing concern among taxpayers about where the funding was coming from.
In September, seven Spokane city leaders took a trip to Denmark and Scandinavia to learn about sustainable infrastructure, green economies and smart cities. Most of their trip from flights to hotels to food expenses were covered for them.
According to a spokesperson from the City of Spokane, city leaders applied for a scholarship through the privately funded ScanDesign Foundation to pay for their expenses.
The scholarship connects city government officials from the U.S. with those overseas to exchange ideas.The ScanDesign Foundation offers a number of different types of scholarships.
Spokane received the scholarship which helped allow the city leaders to visit Denmark and Sweden for close to a week.
The scholarship covered flights, lodging and food expenses during the trip. About $5,000 was spent on each person who went. This number does not include flights. Flights to the region from Spokane are around $1,500, according to Google Flights. So all together about $6,500 was spent for each city employee to go on the trip. Most of the trip was not paid for by local taxpayers.
According to the city spokesperson, one of the first nights at the hotel and a few meals were not covered by the scholarship. The cost came out to a few hundred dollars for each of the seven people.
Those who participated in the event were able to see the bike infrastructure in Copenhagen, which contributed to the city's good air quality and reasonable traffic flow.
The city leaders also visited a waste energy plant where one manufacturer's waste was another's raw product.