By Mike Dunn

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Philadelphia City Councilman is defending his decision to use taxpayer dollars to hire a local firm to “tweet” on Twitter in his name.

Councilman-at-large Jim Kenney hired a Philadelphia-based company called Chatterblast to handle his Internet public relations — including tweeting and a Facebook page. The cost was $28,000, paid for by taxpayers.

Kenney defends the cost, saying other council members use staffers whose salaries are higher.

“I didn’t want to pay a staff person $60,000 plus benefits to do it,” he told KYW Newsradio.

And Kenney insists the firm handles more than innocuous tweets.

“This is not just tweeting. If you look at the web site, the other things they do are policy discussion, legislative information.”

Kenney also uses an outside public relations consultant at a similar price for traditional outreach efforts. He says he hopes to continue both contracts in the next fiscal year, which begins July 1st, though it would be subject to the approval of City Council president Darrell Clarke.

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