More than £2,000 will be spent on councillors tucking into a meal at cash-strapped Dudley Council during an annual knees-up with the town's new mayor tonight.
But officials today revealed £7,300 has been splashed out on the meal in the past and said costs had been cut this year.
The council’s UKIP councillors have vowed to snub the meal, costing £2,500, saying it would leave a 'sour taste' for Dudley taxpayers.
Dudley Council is currently making cuts of £32 million over the next three years with 40 redundancies planned to balance the books.
This comes as the authority gloomily predicted there was going to be a further £23 million shortfall in budgets over the same period.
Tonight, councillors were marking the start of the mayoral year with Councillor Margaret Aston being invested in the role.
To celebrate the occasion, 160 guests will sit down for a three course meal after the ceremony draws to a close in the mayor's parlour.
This year the council has ditched the buffet in favour a sit-down meal to feed the councillors after the busy mayoral curtain raiser.
The authority says it has attempted to get a grip of costs for the meal by changing supplier this year.
But in total, the council has spent £32,000 on meals over previous years at the mayor making ceremony.
In 2009, the council spent £6,800, £5,000 in 2010, £6,000 in 2011, £7,300 in 2012 and £6,900 last year.
Officials today said that a sit-down meal had been chosen this year because it worked out cheaper than buffet style meals used in previous years.
Newly elected UKIP councillor for Sedgley, Bill Etheridge, said: "I think this issue will leave a sour taste in the mouths of hard-pressed taxpayers in Dudley.
"It is about time that councillors from the old parties realised that there is no such thing as a free meal.
"My Sedgley office was visited this week by members of the public who are keen to set up a local food bank and yet at the same time Dudley councillors are dining out at taxpayers expense.
"UKIP councillors will shun the meal" added Councillor Etheridge who has also been elected to the European parliament.
Dudley Council leader, Councillor David Sparks, said: "There has always been a invitation for those who want to make a contribution to the Mayor of Dudley's charities to come for a meal.
"This is clearly a gimmick for any of the UKIP group have only to been too willing to to partake in those refreshments in the past.
"It ill becomes someone who has just joined the Brussels gravy train to start lecturing over what they should or not have from the public purse."Subscribe to our Newsletter