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City Council votes to scrap free meals

May 12, 1999|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

The free meals for Hagerstown's mayor and City Council members are coming to an end.

The $2,500 meals expense was cut this week from the proposed budget for the 2000 fiscal year, which begins July 1.

On Tuesday, council members agreed to that recommendation after a short discussion.

Meals currently are provided at council work sessions, which begin at 4 p.m. and typically run past 8 p.m. The meals are usually sandwiches and chips.

Councilman J. Wallace McClure said if the city is going to stop providing the food during council meetings, then the meetings have to start after dinner time or there must be a break for dinner during the meetings.

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Councilman Lewis C. Metzner, who said he would rather "brown-bag it," agreed that a dinner break during meetings would be necessary.

Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said he favored bringing his dinner to the meetings. Boyer also suggested that the council members get together to pay for meals themselves.

Whether the meetings will start later or have hour-long dinner breaks was left undecided.

Councilman William M. Breichner said an advantage to starting the meetings later is that more residents may be able to attend.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein said starting meetings later could be a disadvantage for city staff who are required to attend the meetings because they would be kept at work later.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said the city should continue providing the meals because it saves time.

When Bruchey ended the discussion and asked if it was agreed that the $2,500 expenditure for the meals should remain cut from the budget, there was no opposition from the council members.

Bruchey said that whether there will be long breaks during the meetings or whether the meetings will start later will be decided at a future meeting.

The issue of the meals was brought up during last week's council meeting.

At that time, McClure said the meals are beneficial because they keep him and other council members from getting irritable during long meetings. Also, the meals provide a chance for city politicians and city staff to "rub elbows," which McClure said was an intangible benefit.

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