The NZ Herald reports:
A bill of about $91,000 from Hamilton Mayor Julie Hardaker’s office last year has shocked some city councillors who are questioning why ratepayers should be paying for a Koru Club membership and $1257 for a new mayoral office chair.
Okay first of all if any Councillor is really suggesting a Mayor shouldn’t have Koru Club membership, they’re just being petty and stupid. The Hamilton City Council has around $3 billion of assets and turns over over $200 million a year and they think the Mayor shouldn’t have a $361/year Koru Club card? Never mind that the reason frequent travellers have them is so they can be productive and keep working while waiting for flights.
The chair criticism is more valid. You can get very nice executive chairs for $500 to $800. $1,257 is at the higher end of the range.
But other items have attracted criticism, including $994.78 on an Air New Zealand Koru Club membership, $1958 on mayoral stationery and $2000 on print ads promoting her Mayor in the Square events.
They are quibbling about stationery and a measly $2,000 of advertising?
Councillor Ewan Wilson said it was inappropriate for ratepayers to be coughing up for a membership to an airport lounge when the mayor earned enough to pay it herself.
Oh don’t be a dick. The Mayor is travelling on work business, not personal business, hence the Council pays. As Wilson should know, it allows you to keep working while travelling.
And the mayoral chair was ordered because she could “not sit properly” in the old one because it was designed for a man. She had been unaware of the cost of the new one. “I just tried some chairs and that one looked good.”
Probably a good idea in future to ask the cost. If one chair is say an A+ fit and costs $1,500 but another is an A- fit and is $400, then you go for the latter one if the difference in quality is minimal but the price difference is significant.
Hamilton Citizens and Ratepayers Association president John Easto said the costs were “quite staggering”. “It’s a bloody expensive position. I don’t think it’s justifiable, some of those costs. A Koru Club membership is fairly normal for senior managers at corporates but the other things I have real problems with – pretty flowers and things.”
Here is the problem I have reading the story. I don’t know if $91,000 is a high level of expenditure for a Mayoral office or not. With the exception of the chair, most items cited seem routine. But what would be very useful information is what has been the expenditure for the Mayoral office over say the last few years? Has it been static, increasing, or decreasing?
, Julie Hardaker
, Local Body Politics