State News

Councilman wants Durham to scale back award lunch

Posted January 28, 2009 7:44 a.m. EST
Updated January 28, 2009 12:38 p.m. EST

— 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.