By Leisa Zigman I-Team Reporter
ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) - Documents show that members of the St. Louis County police board have spent $3,032.84 of taxpayer money for lunches - a figure that works out to $17.13 per person.
Christy Oldani with BKD, one of St. Louis' largest accounting and business advisory firms, said $17 for lunches sounds reasonable.
"I think that is really average," she said. "I think an excessive lunch would be over $20 or $25."
The story first came to the I-Team from a newstip, which suggest that members of the St. Louis County police board - along with Chief Tim Fitch - were dining out at high-priced Clayton restaurants and charging free meals to taxpayers.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, we asked for all of Chief Tim Fitch's expense reports since 2010. His records went back to June 2010 and up to April 2013.
Records show that the board dined out before every monthly meeting at places like Café Napoli, Cardwells, Dominic's Trattoria and J. Bucks. The documents also showed that the five board members and the chief were more interested in soup and salad than filet mignon or lobster.
Oldani says getting away from the office is more productive than staying.
"When you move away from the business, you are able to talk a little more freely about the challenges and things you are looking to overcome or grow, and you can think a little bit better when you step away from the desk," Oldani said.
Other large accounting firms agree with Oldani's statement, saying that the $17 meals were not excessive.
Nevertheless, last week, four days after we requested the chief's expense report, Board Chair Ray Wagner said the board should no longer eat out, but instead, order boxed lunches from the St. Louis Bread Company, where an average lunch runs for about $10 - a move that would save taxpayers money.
To see all the data we received, click here.