22 Sep 2014

Yoga mats, cufflinks charged to CCC

4:14 pm on 22 September 2014

Yoga mats, flowers, coffee and cufflinks contributed to the more than $1.2 million Christchurch City Council staff have spent on entertainment and expenses in the past year.'

Yoga mat


Mayor Lianne Dalziel said last year she was shocked to see how excessive staff had been and committed to rewriting the spending policy, including reducing the number of staff who held purchase, or P-cards.

The number of staff with the cards had dropped from 426 in October 2013 to 362 now - but figures showed spending totalled $1,234,570.38 between 12 October 2013 and 31 July 2014.

Items bought included iPads, yoga mats, flowers, coffees, conferences and catering.

A breakdown of the purchases made by those 362 staff shows $988 was spent on a corporate gift which included a silk tie, cufflinks and handkerchief set, $615 was spent on muzzles to issue owners of dangerous dogs, $1055.70 on shotgun shells for a goose cull and $1000 on a roof rack for "some big game hunting".

The council has not yet responded to requests for an explanation of what the "big game hunting" refers to.

The most accrued on any one card for that period was $44,851.15, followed by $38,016.42 and $26,630.01. The breakdown does not identify who those staff members are.

The council has confirmed Ms Dalziel does not hold a P-card.

Chief executive Dr Karleen Edwards said council staff were only allowed to use purchase cards to buy low-value goods and services.

The cards were introduced to reduce the processing costs of buying low-value goods and services worth less than $1000.

"In October last year, the acting chief executive circulated a note to all council staff announcing changes to the use of P-cards and related items of expenditure. I fully support the stance that has been taken.

"I continue to reinforce to staff that money is tight and we need to be extra careful in the way that ratepayers' money is spent."

Meanwhile, official figures show the council is owed $9.92 million in unpaid rates.

By the end of June this year, 16,141 ratepayers were behind in their payments. The arrears range from one cent to $183,000.

The council charged ratepayers 26,580 ratepayers $2 million in late penalties for the same period.

The council said it waived about 3600 of the 5000 applications it received protesting the penalties.