Up to four representatives of the Columbia Association have been invited to attend a "Town Twinning Celebration" in Columbia's "Sister City," Cergy-Pontoise, France. Cergy-Pontoise has offered to pay for the hotel accomodations during a weekend schedule that would include official meetings, cultural activities and sightseeing tours, according to the CA.
But there's a catch. The CA must provide airfare costs for the representatives who attend. The CA estimates the cost per person to be $1,250, according to an article on Explore Howard.
What do you think, should the CA fund the trip, partially fund the trip or save the money?
The question the CA is now asking itself, is should representatives who want to attend pay their own airfare or should the CA cover it?
Tom Coale, a CA board member and blogger at HoCo Rising, has . Coale wrote, "The Board has an obligation to consider how it appears to the public, particularly when it is effectively rewarding itself an opportunity to fly to France."
He said that it's important to send at least one representative to maintain Columbia's presence in the "Sister Cities" program and offered a compromise of partially funding up to four representatives' airfare, only one of which will be a board member.
Three board members, Gregg Schwind (Hickory Ridge), Cynthia Coyle (Harper's Choice) and Michael Cornell (River Hill) thought the CA should fund the trip, according to Explore Howard, while board member Alex Hekimian (Oakland Mills) said funding the trip would send the wrong message.
CA currently has two sister cities, Cergy-Pontois and Tres Cantos, Spain. Both are similar to Columbia because they are planned suburbs of a major city (Paris and Madrid) and are similar in size to Columbia, according to the CA.
The relationship with Cergy-Pointoise was established in 1977.
The "Sister Cities" program was started by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. It's dedicated to creating and strengthening partnerships between the U.S. and international communities and promoting peace through mutual respect, cooperation and understanding, according to the Sister Cities International website.