15 Dec 2015

Christchurch City Council spends $400k on colour copying

5:59 am on 15 December 2015

Christchurch City Council is already making New Year's resolutions including one to spend less money on photocopying.

Figures released to RNZ News show that in the last financial year the cash-strapped council went $750,000, or 35 percent, over its printing budget.

Christchurch city council

Christchurch City Council has over spent on printing by $750,000. Photo: RNZ / Conan Young

While the cost overrun does not just include photocopying, and also covers banners and signage on cars, staff choosing to print in colour rather than black and white may be one of the major culprits.

Colour printing costs four times as much as black and white and last year accounted for 37 percent of all photocopying expenditure, or $408,000.

The council has sent out a memo to staff reminding them that before hitting the print button they should consider whether they need to print in the first place and if they do, to print in black and white, rather than colour.

Notices have also been placed next to photocopiers informing staff of the need for restraint. RNZ News does not have any information on whether these were printed in black and white or colour.

In ordinary circumstances, spending an extra $750,000 on something such as printing would not be the end of the world. However the council is constantly reminding staff and ratepayers of the dire financial situation it finds itself in.

It often talks about its $1.2 billion budget deficit and the need to raise rates and sell council-owned assets to make up for this shortfall.

It has gone through two rounds of restructuring in recent years and shed 73 jobs which it said would make the organisation more streamlined and responsive.

Ratepayers have not been spared either, with an 8 percent rates increase this year and a just over 7 percent rise planned for next year.

So what else does the $750,000 printing overspend buy in post-earthquake Christchurch?

It would pay the just over 7 percent rates increase forecast for next year - but only for a lucky 4800 households.

It would cover the $500,000 the council said it could not afford to repair an earthquake damaged paddling pool in the suburb of Richmond, which local residents are keen to see fixed.

It would also go a long way to keeping a further three paddling pools open in Linwood, St Albans and Papanui, currently facing the chop once they come to the end of their useful lives.

These are the same pools medical officer of health Alistair Humphrey said should be kept going due to the health benefits and the water skills young children learn while playing in them. Again the council said they were unaffordable.