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Taxpayers Hit With Commission’s Rising Catering Tab

Atlanta Lawyer > Atlanta News  > Taxpayers Hit With Commission’s Rising Catering Tab

Taxpayers Hit With Commission’s Rising Catering Tab

A Channel 2 investigation has found that DeKalb County is spending more than $2,000 a month to feed breakfast and lunch to county commissioners and their staff.

Channel 2’s Richard Belcher crunched the numbers and found that the amount spent on food jumped dramatically in the past two years.

When Belcher started asking questions, he was told that spending would be cut, especially in light of the county’s financial problems.

The commission chief of staff told Belcher that the practice of providing meals for the seven commissioners, plus staff members, began years ago because everyone was tied down during long commission meetings.

During Belcher’s research, he found that in the last two years, food costs have more than doubled.

Channel 2 photographer Tony Light caught up with the breakfast caterer as he arrived early for a 9 a.m. commission meetings.

“They like me. Been doing it for probably three months now,” the caterer said.

Channel 2 later obtained the lunch menu.

“Uh, meatloaf, chicken, mashed potatoes and green beans,” said another caterer who showed up with lunch.

Records for the first four months of the year show the commission’s food tab came to $8,901.

Sammiches n’ Stuff is the favorite — providing breakfast on 10 days for a total of more than $2,100.

Fox Brothers Barbecue billed $559 for catering lunch one day.

Ted’s Montana Grill had the highest single tab — $578 for another lunch.

The spending is down this year after huge increases in the previous two years.

During 2007 and 2008, the DeKalb commission spent $23,894 on food — mostly on commission meeting days.

But during 2009 and 2010, Channel 2 found that food costs rose to $60,334, an increase of more than 150 percent at a time when DeKalb’s financial problems were going from bad to worse.

Chief of staff Morris Williams said he’s cutting back.

“Maybe our costs were a little high, and we’ve adjusted that. We now only spend $100 for breakfast, and $350 for lunch,” said Williams.

Commissioner Elaine Boyer volunteered a few dozen cupcakes Tuesday morning. Commissioners Kathy Gannon and Jeff Rader agreed it’s time to cut back.

“In this budget, we just don’t need to be spending that much,” said Gannon.

“It’ll be a small drop in the bucket, but every drop counts,” said Rader.

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