DECATUR, Ga. -DeKalb County taxpayers have forked over more than $9,000 so far this year to feed county commissioners and some don't like it.
"They ought to be paying for their own meals just like everyone else," said taxpayer Sherry Matthews.
DeKalb County Commission meetings have been the scene of worry and belt tightening of late. In the past two years, Commissioners have slashed the county's budget and raised taxes to make up for a $30 million budget deficit.
On meeting days, commissioners and their staff are fed catered meals, on some days more than one meal.
"It's a convenience factor," said Chief of Staff Morris Williams. "It started five years prior to me coming. It's something we're doing as other counties do."
Commissioners meet several times a month. Some days they meet from morning until night. Williams says the meals are provided to commissioners, their staff, and county administrators to keep everyone together on a long day.
"If you let them go out to lunch, I don't think we'll get them back in the room," said Williams.
Taxpayers don't foot the bill for all of the meals. Vendors donated $4,000 worth of catered meals for commissioners and staff so far this year.
There are times when taxpayers are asked to feed as many as forty people at a time. On May 8th of this year, the county ordered $700 worth of food from Sweet Potato Café. Records show that earlier this month, taxpayers forked out $500 for food from Chef Marcus.
Some taxpayers say they understand.
"My company buys us lunch if we're stuck in a long meeting," Jeremy Clifton wrote on 11Alive's Facebook page. "I don't see how this is any different."
At one time, the county used taxpayer dollars to feed commissioner's breakfast and lunch on their long meeting days. The breakfasts were recently cancelled "until further notice," according to county records.
The chief of staff is trying to get more donated meals.
11Alive News has emailed every member of the Dekalb County Commission to get their take on the practice of taxpayer money used to buy catered meals.
We want to know what you think. Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below and we'll share your feedback with the DeKalb County commissioners.