Memphis City Council votes for more lunch money

Memphis City Council members on Tuesday amended the city budget to give themselves catered lunches, more of a travel allowance than in the past four years combined, a part-time lobbyist and a new staff analyst who will also handle the council’s communications.

Further from the Commercial Appeal:

Council members voted 6-4 to increase their budget for lunches on days the council meets to $8,000 ā€” or $615 per member ā€” up from the $1,000 that was proposed by chairman Kemp Conrad. Members also increased their travel allowance to $65,000 from the $15,000 that was proposed; and voted to add $100,000 for the lobbyist in Nashville and the analyst.

The votes were deja vu for veteran council members, who also debated lunches and travel budgets last year as the city faced several large expenses and as retirees younger than 65 lost their city health subsidies. The council voted last year to set aside $3,500 for lunches and $15,000 for travel.

This year, the city’s budget is also tight as the city works to hire more police officers, increase its contribution to the pension fund, and roll out new police body cameras and in-car cameras.

“I just think it sends the wrong signal,” council member Frank Colvett Jr. said before the vote.