Correspondence released under the Official Information Act show staff at Porirua City Council raised several issues about Mike Tana’s spending before he voluntarily handed his expense card back on March 27.
This is significant, if he ended up effectively having his card rescinded.
More than $120,000 of ratepayer funds were also spent on communications and strategic advice for Tana.
Did any previous Mayor spending $120,000 on PR advice?
Tana called his expensing “normal accounting” and explained cash withdrawals overseas as “the way that you have to do it when you go to China”.
What bullshit. If you need cash for a trip overseas, you get it issued to you in advance, and then account for it when you return. You don’t use your employer’s card as an ATM.
“I’ve been very frugal. I blag rides, get people to buy me coffees, stay at friends’ houses – I do all those things to keep my costs down.”
Tana reimbursed several expenses after council staff queried them.
If you were being frugal, you wouldn’t be reimbursing expenses. By definition they were things he should not have charged up.
Also getting other people to buy you coffee is not being frugal. Paying for your own coffee is being frugal.
“When you’re working at the level that I work at, it’s not just me – that’s anybody that works with receipts – there’ll be a certain level of receipts that go missing.”
Really? What level? 5%? 10%?
My policy when travelling on behalf of someone else is to not claim an expense if I can’t find a receipt for it.
Also I never ever asked for an expense card (except a taxi one). I would charge expenses to my personal card and claim back at the end.
Many were honest mistakes caused by him juggling three or four different bank cards in his wallet, he said.
Yeah it is so difficult to tell the difference between four cards. So complex.
Others went through a “process” then reimbursed if they weren’t business expenses, he said.
In other words I would have the Council pay for personal stuff for me, and reimburse them if they noticed and asked.
After a withdrawal in August, council chief financial officer Roy Baker emailed Chief Executive Wendy Walker and said: “This is a further withdrawal – and not what was agreed with Mike. I have withdrawn the ability to withdraw cash from the card.”
So the Council were so concerned they switched off the cash access of his card.
Tana said he withdrew the cash because it was difficult to use credit cards in China.
Really? I’ve never had any problems. To be fair, outside tourist areas they are not always accepted. But again the solution is to have the organisation you travel for arrange foreign cash in advance, which you reconcile when home.
Matthews suggested the solution was to organise cash before travelling overseas. “Cash transactions on your credit card are not the appropriate way of doing it.”