LAYTON (AP) — A taxpayer watchdog group is questioning a planned $9,000 trip to Washington, D.C., by the entire City Council.

Five council members plan to attend an annual convention in Washington, D.C., put on by the National League of Cities and Towns at a cost of $1,800 per person.

But the trip has raised eyebrows with the Utah Taxpayers Association, which questions why the entire council is attending a convention designed to teach officials how to increase efficiency.

"A business would not send a whole sales department," said Mike Jerman, vice president of the association. "To send a whole council sounds excessive."

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It is the second year in a row that the entire council has attended the event. Last year's convention, also attended by the mayor and city manager, cost about $14,000.

Council member Stephen Handy has attended the convention four of the past five years. Handy said the convention is a worthy investment that provides local leaders the opportunity to meet with the entire Utah congressional delegation to discuss how their decisions impact local communities.

He said a direct result of the convention was $1.5 million for a proposed $33 million transportation project. The funding came about during the 2003 meeting and prior meetings city leaders had with Sen. Bob Bennett, R-Utah, he said.

Handy said the convention also includes problem-solving sessions and workshops using city case studies.

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