Council air travel spending decried
City leaders and staff have racked up more than $3 million in air travel over the past three years, while residents face rates hikes and funding cutbacks.
And one councillor has slammed the figures as ‘‘staggering’’.
More than $2 million has been spent by Auckland Council staff on air travel between 2011 and June this year.
Elected councillors came in second place with $842,000.
Those working for councilcontrolled organisations have spent just over $190,000.
The figures come as more than 125,000 Auckland homeowners face rates increases of more than 10 per cent next year.
The details have been released under the Local Government Official Information Act to councillor John Watson, who says the numbers are staggering. ‘‘Auckland might be aspiring to become an international city but does it really have to involve so many people travelling overseas in order to achieve it?’’
The figures do not take into account the cost of accommodation and other travel expenses.
Auckland Council says most domestic and international travel is to Wellington and Australia, respectively. Efforts are made to secure the cheapest flights.
The cost of travel is relative to the city’s size and annual revenue of $3.2 billion, council says.
Watson says there seem to be no controls in place.
‘‘What’s also clear from this information is that over this last three years there appears to have been no shortage of individuals willing to avail themselves of the perks of business class travel at the ratepayers’ expense.’’
Council staff should pay extra for business class, he says.
A breakdown of air travel expense by council group or department was not provided except for Auckland Council Property Limited (ACPL).
In the 2011-12 financial year just $2402 was spent by ACPL on international and domestic travel.
ACPL’s travel spending rose to almost $10,000 in 2012-13 and almost $20,000 in 2013-14.
Council says business class travel was used between Auckland and Los Angeles, and Auckland and Las Vegas in May 2014 because the flight was longer than eight hours.
The rule to allow business class travel if a flight was longer than eight hours was passed by councillors earlier this year.
Too much: Councillor John Watson says air travel spending by Auckland Council is over the top.