Despite Cuts Some County Commissioners Still Want $30K for Lunches

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(Memphis) Shelby County commissioners are a hundred million dollars in the hole and asking every department to cut back so they can pay for schools.

But every time they meet, they eat lunch on your dime.

Shelby County Commissioners spend thirty thousand dollars a year on catered lunches.

They claim it's necessary because they work all day, but at Wednesday’s budget hearings News Channel 3 snapped this picture at lunchtime.

The meeting was still going on, and all but three commissioners had left.

“We don`t have the money to do some of the things we want to do,” said Commissioner Sydney Chism.

Chism says $30,000 and for their lunches is just a drop in the bucket in a billion dollar budget and really doesn't make a difference.

“They don`t get a lunch break. They can`t leave. They get stacked up reports. They have to be there and I don`t want to cut that out for them,” said Chism about the commission staff.

Commissioner Heidi Shafer is introducing a plan cutting commissioner lunches out of the budget.

“I think if we`re going to be talking about cutting we need to set the example and I don`t think we need to have free lunches,” said Shafer.

Shafer says cutting unnecessary spending like this across the board could add up, and keep commissioners from having to raise property taxes.

“I`ve never been to a job where they provide you lunch and I don`t think it`s necessary,” said Shafer.

Commissioners who oppose the plan say most days when they meet they work straight through lunch, so it`s only fair to provide lunch to employees who work here at the county building.

Chism says he pays for his lunches, but Shafer says about half the commissioners don't.

A similar plan was introduced last year and commissioners voted to keep passing their lunch bill to you.