The case has been well made that members of Hamilton City Council should be able to have meals served during meetings. Anybody who remembers the bad old days when council met at night sometimes after tarrying a bit too long at the cocktail hour will say it is much better to bring the food service in-house.
And it was probably OK to serve the lunches for free at a time when councillors were effectively part-timers, earning a part-time salary. But those days are long gone—councillors are now earning, if not an executive salary, at least a good living of nearly double the median wage in Hamilton.
There is now no excuse to continue a practice that in this age of close scrutiny and fiscal constraint suffers from poor optics. $33,000 a year, the annual council food budget, is indeed a drop in the bucket, and –we’re not going to resort to the time-honoured bromide of listing all the things that $33,000 could buy—but the message of entitlement that this practice sends out is unacceptable.
Payment is quite manageable through a simple payroll deduction, so let’s just do it.