Coun­cil air travel spend­ing de­cried

Auckland City Harbour News - - NEWS - By JESS ETHERIDGE

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.

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