Hotel gala didn’t cost taxpayers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

More than 250 invited guests celebrated the Hilton Garden Inn and Suffolk Conference Center’s recent opening by attending the invitation-only Mayor’s Ball last weekend.

But relax, taxpayers, Friday night’s exclusive gala is not costing you a penny.

&uot;There was no taxpayer money involved whatsoever,&uot; said Mayor Bobby L. Ralph. &uot;Everybody who went paid for their own tickets.&uot;

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Tickets were $50 a person – enough to cover the cost of the meal and entertainment, said Dennis Craff, a spokesman for the city. The hotel provided a cash bar for party-goers, he said.

Private sponsors, including TowneBank and Sara Lee, helped fund the event, Ralph said. While company representatives were invited to the gala, they – like everyone else – paid their own way.

Members of the Suffolk City Council were each allowed to bring a table of paying guests, Craff said.

Other invitees included Industrial Development Authority members, the city’s management team and other employees who had a hand in the hotel’s opening and the engineers and architects who built the $22 million hotel, Craff said.

&uot;Anyone who came paid his own way,&uot; he said.