Kaipara councillors have agreed to cut back on their catered lunches - costing up to $19,000 a year - but have dismissed an idea that they pack their own in a bid to cut costs as the council grapples with massive debt.
On Wednesday, councillors voted against providing their own lunches after a notice of motion put forward by Councillor Jonathan Larsen suggested the catered meetings were not necessary.
He also saw no need for the council to appoint a new cafeteria manager - the current manager is leaving at the end of the month.
"Council needs to lead the way in cutting all non-essential expenditure," Mr Larsen said.
He felt the lunches were over-catered and saw no reason why councillors could not provide their own lunches to save costs. "A roster of existing administration staff could be used to make the tea and coffee and clean-up after the meeting," he said.
A budget of $19,000 is allocated per annum for the meetings' catering. This included catering for invited guests.
Corporate services manager Barbara Ware said that, while $19,000 was allocated, the full amount was not usually used.
Mr Larsen estimated a salary, based on a minimum hourly rate and one meeting per month as an annual cost of $5616.
Chief executive Steve Ruru said staff already had work to do and he questioned whether it was logical to take staff away from their duties to staff the kitchen.
The suggestion councillors could make their own tea and coffee and clean-up after themselves raised the question whether staff would want councillors in what essentially was a staff tea-room.
Deputy Mayor Julie Geange saw no reason why councillors "couldn't pull the lid off a box of food and set it out on plate"
Councillor Brian McEwing disagreed with dissolving the canteen position, saying the manager had been "a valued part of the team process".
Other councillors drew the line at having to pack a lunch, which they saw as adding to an already busy schedule. It was agreed the style and amount of food provided could be cut back considerably to a basic "sandwich, cake and piece of fruit".
Those wanting anything more could bring their own. Citizenship and Award ceremonies would continue to be fully catered.
The motion to not employ a canteen manager was lost.
Another move put forward by Mr Larsen for Kaipara District councillors to refund their after-tax salaries was also rejected.
The Kaipara District Council is $80 million in debt.-