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Members of the Baltimore Board of Estimates (left to right) City Comptroller Joan Pratt, Council President Bernard "Jack" Young and Mayor Catherine Pugh meet Jan. 12, 2017, in Baltimore.
Members of the Baltimore Board of Estimates (left to right) City Comptroller Joan Pratt, Council President Bernard "Jack" Young and Mayor Catherine Pugh meet Jan. 12, 2017, in Baltimore. (Kenneth K. Lam / Baltimore Sun)

Washington is an hour by car or train from Baltimore, but the Baltimore City Council president, the vice president and an aide are planning to spend four nights in $300 hotel rooms to attend a conference there.

The city’s spending board approved the travel at a meeting Wednesday.

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The total budget for the rooms, $490 conference registration fee and a stipend for expenses, is $5,885, according to the meeting agenda.

The National Association of Counties is holding the conference March 2-6 at the Washington Hilton in Northwest Washington. The keynote speaker is AOL CEO Steve Case.

Water rates in Baltimore will go up 30 percent over the next three years after a vote by the city’s spending board Wednesday. The vote followed a Department of Public Works presentation in support of the increase and public testimony against it.

Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young, Council Vice President Sharon Middleton and Kenneth Parker, an aide to Young, are attending the conference.

Lester Davis, a spokesman for Young, said Young and Middleton both have official roles in the association and that staying overnight will give them more opportunities to attend early morning and evening events.

“Having access to the caliber of policymakers and thinkers who are going to be there is really invaluable,” Davis said.

Davis said traveling to the conference by train would cost almost as much as staying overnight. The cost of a one-way Amtrak ticket from Baltimore to Washington is as low as $14 and the trip takes 45 minutes.

Baltimore City Council President Bernard C. “Jack” Young says it appeared the police department was “stonewalling” auditors looking into the agency’s performance at attracting recruits. Comptroller Joan Pratt says she talked with the interim police commissioner to resolve some of the issues.

Young chairs the five-member city spending board, but Mayor Catherine Pugh controls three votes on it.

The meeting agenda said Davis and another staff member also would be attending the conference, but Davis said their names were included by mistake.

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