At the time, the mayor’s communications director, Laurence Grotheer, told News 8’s Mario Boone the China trip, billed as an effort to “recruit business and trade,” cost $20,000. But the latest figure provided Thursday by city attorney Kathleen Foster for the trip was $49,417.36.
As for why the cost more than doubled from the initial amount provided to us, Foster told us that, “Laurence explained to me that he thinks that you might be referring to a statement the Mayor made on the radio, and perhaps to you as well, that she estimated that the trip cost about $20,000.”
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Pinning down the exact cost to New Haven taxpayers of Mayor Harp’s China foray has been very difficult. One reason is the mayor’s office has been extremely slow turning over records in response to our April 24 Freedom of Information Act request. The city only released the information following a complaint to the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act Commission just three days shy of a hearing on the matter.
It’s not the first time city leaders revised the cost of the trip. Officials previously increased the cost to $37,495, according to Foster’s email. Her explanation for the most recent expense difference, an $11,649.81 payment just made a week ago to the “Economic Development Commission in reimbursement of certain expenses EDC covered.”
Taxpayers forked over a total of $19,279.81 to EDC for the China trip, according to Foster.
The Office of the Corporation Counsel said the city paid for the flight, hotel, conference registration and baggage fees of five people: Mayor Harp, Controller Daryl Jones, Andrew Wolf, Andrea Scott and Board of Alders President Tyisha Walker-Jones.
The per person break down of charges is as follows:
Registration (to Yale/China Assoc.) $1,395.00
Baggage Fees/Misc. $179.51