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City council working lunches that cost El Paso taxpayers $17,000+ since 2022 now off the table

EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) — Working lunches that cost El Paso taxpayers more than $17,000 over the last 16 months will no longer be provided during El Paso City Council meetings effective Monday, according to an internal memo obtained by ABC-7 through a source. 

The authenticity of the e-mail sent by El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser was confirmed by the mayor’s office.

The e-mail sent by the mayor to city council members, Interim City Manager Cary Westin, City Attorney Karla Nieman and other staff members reads: 

“Beginning next week, Interim City Manager Cary Westin and I have determined it would be beneficial to have a one hour break to take place immediately after Call to the Public during City Council meetings.  As such, no lunch service will be needed, and both City Council and staff will have an opportunity to use that time as they deem appropriate.”

Just hours after the e-mail was sent, ABC-7 reported on 47 working lunch purchases made by City Manager Tommy Gonzalez's secretary from January 2022 to April 2023 that cost $17,424.21. That's according to P-card purchasing records obtained by ABC-7 through an open records request.

The lunch purchases were for city council, the mayor and others on council session days, often in excess of $500 per instance from restaurants like Chick-fil-A, La Madeleine and Corner Bakery, among others.

ABC-7 is still going through more documents and will continue reporting on how El Paso taxpayer dollars are being spent by elected officials and city staff.

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Erik Elken


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