State News

Councilman wants Durham to scale back award lunch

Posted January 28, 2009

— A City Council member is asking that Durham scale back its employee-recognition luncheon to save money at a time when the economy is in the dumps.

In a letter to City Manager Tom Bonfield, Councilman Eugene Brown said the luncheon should be replaced with a modest ceremony during a council meeting.

Officials said the city government has held the event for about 20 years. This year's event is set for Feb. 10 at the Durham Marriott.

Brown estimated the luncheon for 400 people at a downtown hotel costs the city more than $45,000, including $8,000 for food and $31,500 in lost productivity.

Durham might have to cut $4 million from its annual budget, he said, adding that, even in good economic times, the cost of the employee luncheon would be excessive for a taxpayer-funded event.

City officials disputed Brown's calculations, saying the event will cost about $19,000. It will honor 219 city service workers, they said.

Bonfield says officials will look into the matter, but he doubts it could be changed less than two weeks before the luncheon.


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  • any1butcarolina0405 Jan 28, 2009

    wait wait wait... people being honored for doing their job... at tax payers expense? wow.

  • pleshy Jan 28, 2009

    I don't think my freedom of speech has ever been protected by a clerk in the city inspections department or planning and zoning. As I said, police and Fire department are exempt from my criticism. Other than those two groups, the only useful government employees I have ever worked with are the Register of Deeds and the Clerk of Court. And they are County employees, not city. Brandeedee, to say that some entry level planner in the city storm water services division who has nothing better to do than wait until it rains and then drive around looking for mud protects my freedom of speech is laughable.

  • mmania Jan 28, 2009


    Sounds to me like your skin is a little thin. Get over yourself, did he call your name specifically? NOOOOOO.
    Just another example of people being offended at the the least little thing.

  • 68_polara Jan 28, 2009

    I don't believe anyone has berated Durham's wasteful spending more than myself around here but It's far to late at this point. I'm sure there is a contract already signed for a caterer and etc. This sounds political. If Eugene Brown really wants to do something start addressing it now for the up coming year. Be sides, if everyone suddenly stops spending money the economic problems will continue to spiral out of control.

  • CarolinianByChoice Jan 28, 2009

    I am a veteran of the military who has a son currently serving in the military: As a “government employee” I was very aware of what I would be giving up; I did so gladly and never expected any special pats-on-the-back or thank-yous for my service. Those who are bellyaching about government employees (from the comfort of your computer keyboard) are all vigorously exercising your right to freedom of speech. Wow, if you remember correctly, that right is protected by the VERY GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEES you are expressing such contempt for. The issue here is whether the city (ALL OF US) should, in the dire economic times we find ourselves in, scale back – do any of you think the answer is No? Even if it is a "measly" $45k? All this sniping and pessimism is EXACTLY what will be the stumbling block to getting this country back on its feet again.

  • foetine Jan 28, 2009

    Shouldn't Durham being saving money for all the cash they'll be paying out to the Duke Lacrosse "victims"?

  • farmkid Jan 28, 2009

    I'm all for rewarding a job well done ... within reason. At a week before the event, the city would probably lose the money for the venue rental, food, awards, and lost time for the employees who have been doing the planning for the event. Why not hold it in the evening (with the same menu) when most employees would not be working? There would not be as much lost productivity and that would save an estimated $31,500 (per the article).

  • The Big E Jan 28, 2009

    I have been a Durham Cop for 22 years and I think it is a big waste of money. Put it towards salarys. The taxpayers foot too many stupid events in Durham as it is.

  • d7p Jan 28, 2009

    Pleshy for my part, I do not agree with a $45K dinner...Ever! I think there are a lot local gov employees that work hard to serve. I feel attacking ALL government employees is the same as saying that "Greedy Corporate CEO are why our economy is in the toilet" I think making broad statements are a bad idea. When I chose my career, job retention and pay were not factors. I chose my job(one of the 2 you mentioned)because I wanted to help people. Most of my co-worker are just like me.

  • RetGr6 Jan 28, 2009

    At the place I used to work, award recognition was a departmental thing; maybe a cake, few cookies, etc. It didn't cost much! There ARE cheaper ways of doing it.