In his 13 years working for the Town of Cary, Interim Town Manager Ben Shivar says he can't recall a year in which the Town Council has held its annual retreat at home. But in a slow economy, money talks.
"The main thing for this year is that, given the current economic situation, the council felt it was important to hold the cost as low as possible," Shivar said.
In keeping with that idea, Cary's council and staff have indeed traded what might be viewed by some as the luxuries of the past -- in recent years, the council has stayed at swanky hotels in Southern Pines and Wilmington -- for the comforts of home. This year's retreat is being held at the Embassy Suites Raleigh-Durham on Harrison Oaks Boulevard.
A cost analysis provided by the town shows that Cary has trimmed its costs for the retreat by about $5,000 when compared to 2008. The total estimated costs this year are $12,900.61. Last year, the town spent $17,954.24.
The biggest savings this year came in the area of hotel costs, which have been estimated at $3,921.65. That's less than half of the $8,622.08 Cary spent on its 2008 retreat at the Mid-Pines Hotel in Southern Pines.
Valiria Willis, Cary's human resources manager, said the difference could be attributed to the fact that no council members or town employees are staying at the hotel. The bill this year primarily includes the costs of food and reservations, she said.
Another break from tradition: Council and staff held only one dinner social this year. On Friday, the Town Council and town employees dined at Maximilian's on Chapel Hill Road at an approximate cost of $978.96.
Also factored into this year's retreat costs are $7,000 to pay for a facilitator and $1,000 in miscellaneous expenses, including travel costs for two guest speakers.