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GDC ‘sensitive expenditure’ meets approval

Gisborne District Council has performed well in terms of expenses, finance and audit, says committee chairman Brian Wilson.

He was speaking after the committee received a report on sensitive expenditure for the year ending June 30.

The committee has decided to hold a workshop at which it will review sensitive expenditure and other associated policies.

The policy includes items like travel expenditure, entertainment and hospitality, gifts, donations and koha.

If you took mileage out of the expenditure there would not be much left, said Mr Wilson.

“I think this council is pretty good in the way of expenses.”

Other councils and organisations did suffer from excessive expenditure, and publicity from that, but the council certainly did not.

Mr Wilson said special expenditure did not include the Mayor’s credit card, which was dealt with under another policy.

The report said sensitive expenditure by the chief executive and councillors totalled $61,231 for travel and transport, $15,551 for entertainment and $1700 for gifts.

Chief financial officer Pauline Foreman said a number of expenses contributed to the total.

The policy probably did need updating, she said.

Mr Wilson said the policy had one outdated item, the inclusion of one toll call.

“Who the hell makes toll calls today? You can remove that,” he said.

Pat Seymour said meal costs were set at $60 a meal, irrespective of which meal that was.

Sixty dollars would be a “mighty expensive” breakfast.

On boards she sat on, breakfast was one rate, lunch was another.

The policy allowed for one drink with dinner but she said people should pay for their own.

The policy should break down the Mayor’s, chief executive’s and councillors’ mileage.

“This is all ratepayers’ money,” she said.

Mr Wilson said the credit card policy was a separate one, however the report did include the Mayor’s mileage on his credit card.

Shannon Dowsing said the report showed there was no problem with spending for the council’s current activities.

It was really only a matter of altering the document because the council was operating very well.

Rehette Stoltz said toll calls should not be removed. Someone might be in a hotel some time and their cellphone might be broken.

Mr Wilson said the council should have a workshop and bring all associated policies into that.

Independent adviser Robert Hunter said an overarching element for this whole thing should be transparency. The council needed to know the justification for spending.

Larry Foster said anything not in this policy, like computers provided to councillors, was in addition to the councillors’ remuneration.

Mr Wilson said iPads provided to councillors were owned by the organisation, not them.