SOUTHAVEN, MS (abc24.com) - They're back from Sin City. Southaven's elected officials are fresh off the plane from a five day business trip to Las Vegas, attending an international shopping center conference.
It was Mayor Greg Davis' first time traveling since a state investigation into his spending of city money. Two aldermen joined him on the trip.
All the expenses were approved by the Board of Alderman ahead of time.
The city is paying airfare, lodging and food. The mayor is still entertaining with tax money. Davis says that's the way he has always done the city's business, he's had success doing it, and that's the way he'll continue.
"I've been attending (the conference) for 9-10 years now," Davis tells abc24.com. "There was one thing different, I kept receipts."
Davis says he knows his every move is being scrutinized, but he's not changing the way he does business because of the state's audit.
"Not necessarily the expenses, but bookkeeping of those expenses."
The city spent $4,000-$5,000 sending Davis and two aldermen to Vegas.
"We learned quite a bit about what businesses are looking for and what we can offer them," says Alderman Ronnie Hale, who attended.
"The hotels $600-$650 each," Davis says. "Airfare six (hundred) and per diem around $200. $1400 per person that went," Davis says, calling the trip an investment in the city's business future. "We have some good things coming, can't tell who yet."
"If we land one of the deals the mayor should be giving some info about next week, the trip will be well worth the expense already," Hale adds.
Davis says the money was budgeted for their travel and part of Southaven's tourism funds.
"Those who are upset I think may be confused about the fact that we're using their tax dollars. We're using tax dollars if stayed in a hotel in Southaven."
"Travel to Las Vegas sounds bad in its own self," Hale says, "but the fact is what we did there accomplishes a lot for the city."
"If people expect me to be a mayor and sit behind this desk and wait for a development project to fall into our laps that's not going to happen," Davis says. "We wouldn't have what we have had we not been aggressive. We've seen this type of development the last 15 years and I'm not going to stop."
All of the receipts from the trip will be turned in to the city clerk. Again, the expenses were approved before Davis and the aldermen left town.
The next time the aldermen and mayor will be traveling is at the end of June. That trip will be to attend an annual training conference in Biloxi.