Controversial Durham luncheon goes on

February 10, 2009 5:02:36 AM PST
The City of Durham is going ahead with its annual employee appreciation luncheon, despite calls to scale it back in light of the financial crisis. Supporters of the luncheon say people work hard for the city and deserve recognition, but one city councilman says Durham can't afford the costs in dollars or in time away from work.

"This is not the year to have a 3-and-half hour lunch during the work day for probably over 400 people," said Eugene Brown, Durham city councilman.

Brown believes scaling back or cutting the annual employee reception and luncheon at the Marriott would send a strong message to taxpayers.

It would show them "that we understand," Brown explained. "We know you're hurting and here, we're going to make this symbolic gesture by eliminating this event this year.

Brown believes the money spend on the reception is more than a Durham police officer's starting salary.

In a letter to his colleagues, he wrote the productivity of workers at the luncheon is worth thousands of dollars.

"We've got to make some hard choices folks, and they're not easy," Brown said.

The Councilman suggested canceling the luncheon to save money and pay the employees scheduled for recognition $100.

But that would cost the City $6,00 in cancellation fees, so the luncheon will gone on as scheduled today in Durham.


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