8News Investigates: How Much Did City Officials Spend On Holiday Parties?

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Last year, 8News uncovered the city was holding elegant holiday parties on the taxpayer’s dime.

8News investigative reporter Kerri O’Brien opened the books again and checked to see how city officials spent your money this past holiday season.

We can tell you there were no jumbo shrimp, no fancy hotels and no casino nights for city officials this past year. The city’s celebrations were scaled back considerably since our 8News report exposed the 2013 merriment cost taxpayers nearly $30,000.

“It makes me mad,” outspoken city watchdog Rick Tatnall said last year when we showed them the big bills for the holiday jubilee.

This year, Tatnall is pleased to see that city leaders listened and tightened the belt on the spending.

“I think our efforts helped, they paid off and we made people aware of what went down and the city changed, that’s good.”

In total the city of Richmond spent  just over $8,000 in 2014 on holiday parties for city workers.

The Department of Social Services alone spent more than that in 2013. DSS had an $11,000 affair at the Omni hotel, complete with black jack and craps tables. The acting director at the time defended the party as a “morale booster,” but told us it probably wouldn’t happen again.

She stuck to her promise. DSS did not have a party this past holiday season.

Most of the parties this holiday season were in house, food purchased at Sam’s Club or from restaurants like Buzz and Ned’s.

The Department of Public Utilities spent about $4300 this year on parties, half of what they spent the year before.

The fanciest party of them all was Mayor Dwight Jones’ holiday reception at The Hippodrome. The price tag rounded out at about $3000.

“It’s not realistic that there won’t be any expenditures, it’s appropriate to reward people and have holiday parties.”

When our story aired last year, Richmond City Councilman Charles Samuels vowed to have a discussion with the administration about the elaborate holiday parties. Samuels told 8News that the conversation did happen and that department heads were warned that council would be looking closely at what was spent this holiday season.​

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