DENVER - The all-you-can eat smorgasbord provided to Denver Sheriff Deputies on the taxpayers’ tab has gone on for years, all for the low price of $1, according to a CBS4 report:
CBS4 requested and obtained two years worth of food purchases for the officer’s mess which verified what kitchen workers and deputies said. Invoices showed tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars spent on gourmet foods like fresh lump crab, scallops and cases of shrimp, steak and chicken cordon bleu, salmon and ribs.
In 2011, the Sheriffs Department said employees paid a total of $60,758 for staff meals, but figures obtained by CBS4 indicate those meals likely cost taxpayers well over $200,000 per year.
“We’re paying for it and they’re eating on our dime and it should stop,” said one of the food service workers.
Among the exacerbating circumstances discovered by CBS4′s investigation were inflated daily tallies for number of staff served in order to reduce the cost-per-meal ratio, and a lack of oversight for the nominal $1 charge, as some staff repeatedly failed to pay.
Those food service workers interviewed by CBS4 noted that deputies often received several helpings per day per meal, and even took the food home in what they termed “food pilferage.”
The Denver Auditor’s Office had concerns about the spending. “Some of us would look at that and say no, I don’t think it’s an appropriate amount to be paying for three meals a day,” Denis Berckfeldt, a spokesman for the Auditor, told CBS4. “We might suggest this is probably inappropriate. What this is costing taxpayers is out of line- the dollar amounts are significant. As a taxpayer I’ve got a real serious problem with it. Nobody else in Denver is being fed that way, it seems an unreasonable expense.”
CBS4 also compared the practices in place in Denver to two other large neighboring counties —Rapahoe and Jefferson — as well as the Colorado Department of Corrections. While all three also offer low cost meals for a small fee of around $2-$4, the vendors who prepare the meals for inmates also prepare the meals for the deputies and other staff, and the meals served are not receiving the “gourmet” touch seen in Denver.