Skip to Content

Columbia City Council spends $17,000 on work retreat


The Columbia City Council spent more than $17,000 on a two-day retreat with its members and several city staff earlier this month.

Records obtained by ABC 17 News show the final bill for the retreat to Independence, Missouri, cost $17,153.94. The bill included:

  • $5,000 for training costs
  • $5,792.07 for meals
  • $5,458.33 for lodging
  • $903.54 for mileage

City spokesperson Sydney Olsen said 34 people attended the retreat at the Stoney Creek Hotel in Independence, including consultants with Raftelis, which provides management advice to local governments and utilities.

"The food was provided by the hotel with the exception of dinner on Thursday night which was held at a restaurant nearby," Olsen said. "Rooms were $125 per night before taxes."

Second Ward Councilwoman Andrea Waner said the group was able to make some policy decisions during the retreat. Council members are now empowered to speak directly with department heads rather than going through the city manager first. The city charter restricts the council from dealing with various directors through the city manager "[e]xcept for the purpose of inquiry."

"This will allow us to be able to have fluid conversations with those with the expertise and practical application of the policy we pass," Waner said.

Items on the agenda for the retreat included topics such as "Governing Together" and "The Ideal Council Member." Waner said she appreciated the informal setting to talk with council peers.

"I think it's always helpful to have an opportunity to hear different perspectives, clear up confusion around policies or communications, and make plans for how to improve," Waner said. "It's much easier to do the hard, necessary work when you've built relationships with the people you work alongside."

The retreat marks the second consecutive year council members and city staff went on a retreat outside Columbia. The group held the two-day event meant to build relationships and discuss priorities at the Lake of the Ozarks in 2022.

Article Topic Follows: ABC 17 News Investigates

Jump to comments ↓

Lucas Geisler

Lucas Geisler anchors the 5 p.m. show for ABC 17 News and reports on the latest news around mid-Missouri at 9 and 10 p.m.


ABC 17 News is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content