LAYTON — A tax watchdog association may not like the idea of this city sending its entire council to Washington, D.C., for a five-day convention. But the mayor says not only is it OK, it's a good idea.

Mike Jerman, vice president of the Utah Taxpayers Association, questions the wisdom of sending five council members to a meeting of the National League of Cities and Towns in Washington at a cost of $1,800 each. He wonders why the entire council had to go instead of one or two members who could then report back to the whole group.

Mayor Jerry Stevenson said the city gets a favorable return on the expense, which includes airfare, hotel rooms, conference registration, ground transportation and a per-diem expense for meals. The city, Stevenson said, doesn't pay expenses for spouses.

Stevenson, who said he runs a conservative administration, called the comment from Jerman and the Utah Taxpayers Association "a cheap shot."

Some cities the size of Layton pay Washington lobbyists $50,000 to $150,000 per year to watch out for their interests and promote them, Stevenson said. Layton doesn't do that because the mayor believes the city can be more effective by having an annual presence in Washington for a few days of its entire council.