Local News

Durham to host award lunch despite cost concerns

Posted February 2, 2009 11:14 a.m. EST
Updated February 2, 2009 5:16 p.m. EST

— Durham will proceed with its annual employee-recognition luncheon, City Manager Tom Bonfield said, despite concerns that a City Council member raised about the event's cost.

Bonfield sent a letter to Councilman Eugene Brown, saying canceling the recognition lunch would harm employee morale without saving much money.

Brown last week suggested that the taxpayer-funded lunch should be scrapped because of the city's tight budget. He estimated the event would cost more than $45,000, including $31,500 in lost productivity.

City officials said the Feb. 10 lunch at the Durham Marriott would cost about one-third of that, noting that the 219 employees honored at the event would either make up lost work or would have someone cover their duties for them.

"Without question, the utilization of all public resources must be prudent and efficient and is an even more important practice as the city enters generally (uncharted) waters at this time of fiscal distress and economic downturn," Bonfield wrote to Brown.

"While some public reaction to (canceling the event) as a cost-conscience action may seem positive, the negative signal sent to employees ... who will be expected to perform at significantly improved efficiencies in the coming years as programs and budgets are reduced will likely impact service delivery at significantly higher costs than the initial direct savings, which is estimated at less than $3,000 because of contractual commitments and recognition awards and gifts having already been acquired."

Bonfield said the city would re-evaluate the cost of the lunch as a budget for the 2009-10 year is developed.