While many Hoosiers are curbing their travel plans due to high costs of living, three district employees and a contractor will again use taxpayer dollars to attend a weekend retreat to plan recycling programs for the upcoming year.
In the past two years, these county employees have billed the district more than $5,000 for room and board at some posh locales.
In August, the educators used property tax revenue from the agency's travel budget to stay at the Ahoy Bed & Breakfast in the town of Put-In-Bay, Ohio. Located on South Bass Island in Lake Erie, Put-In-Bay bills itself as "the Key West of the North" on a municipal Web site.
In August 2006, the retreat was based at the New Buffalo Inn & Spa in New Buffalo, Mich.
Waste Management Executive Director Jeff Langbehn said the educators "basically lock themselves in their rooms and work 12-hour days" during the annual August retreats.
Besides the three educators, taxpayers also pay travel costs each year for Diane Thurber, a former Solid Waste district official who Langbehn says has unmatched recycling educational expertise.
Solid Waste has an annual travel budget of about $15,000.
Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub, a member of the Solid Waste Management District board of directors, defended the trips.
"A lot of people in county government travel to Las Vegas or Hawaii, so traveling around the Midwest isn't so bad," Scheub said.
"Well, I base my position on the results," Scheub said. "We have the best Solid Waste district in the state, it does very positive work."
Scheub is an idiot, and one who is up for re-election in November. Defense of this obvious waste should come back to haunt him.