Were the birth­day cel­e­bra­tion costs rea­son­able?

Kapi-Mana News - - CONVERSATIONS -

The cost­ings for the Porirua City 50th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions have fi­nally been re­leased. We chased the fig­ures for sev­eral weeks and thought that, given the de­lay, there might be a bit of a dark story hid­den in there.

In fact, by any as­sess­ment the coun­cil hit a good bal­ance with its birth­day spend­ing.

All up the coun­cil spent $305,000 on the cel­e­bra­tions. On the face of it, that seems like some­thing of a spend-up. How­ever, all that money came from the coun­cil’s ex­ist­ing bud­get.

The big­gest ex­pense by far was the glitzy din­ner at Te Rau­paraha Arena on Oc­to­ber 3, the fo­cal point of the en­tire 50th cel­e­bra­tions. The din­ner cost $164,000, but most of that money was off­set by in­come from ticket sales, spon­sor­ship and grants. The re­main­ing $70,000 came from the coun­cil’s events bud­get.

We had no com­plaint about the spend­ing for the din­ner. If it had been done on the cheap we would have said it was not good enough for the spe­cial oc­ca­sion. In­stead the 600 or so who were there will re­mem­ber the oc­ca­sion for years.

The only crit­i­cism we heard about the din­ner was that many Porirua res­i­dents could not af­ford the $100 ticket price and there­fore felt ex­cluded. That was in­deed a pity, be­cause some of those who could not at­tend were long-time res­i­dents strug­gling to get by on a pen­sion.

There were a va­ri­ety of other birth­day-re­lated events dur­ing the year, rang­ing from street bar­be­cues to ex­hi­bi­tions at Pataka. The coun­cil was clever the way it pushed for ma­jor events like Fes­ti­val of the El­e­ments to have a bit of a 50th birth­day theme. By do­ing so, it en­sured the birth­day cel­e­bra­tion lasted through­out the year.

It is easy on oc­ca­sions like a city’s ju­bilee to get car­ried away and spend up large on a party that ac­tu­ally takes years to pay off – a lot of money spent by an elite few on them­selves.

Our as­sess­ment is that the coun­cil avoided that trap.

The Porirua 50th com­mit­tee fell apart rel­a­tively early on, but that had no dis­cernible ad­verse im­pact on the cel­e­bra­tions.

Per­haps some events in 2015 had their bud­gets trimmed a lit­tle to ac­com­mo­date the 50th cel­e­bra­tions, but gen­er­ally the coun­cil did a good job of ac­knowl­edg­ing the spe­cial year for Porirua, while not hit­ting ratepay­ers in the pocket.

There are enough com­plaints in Porirua about rates as it is, and the last thing the coun­cil needed was to pro­duce a bal­ance sheet that showed vast sums of money had been spent for the ben­e­fit of an ex­clu­sive group.

That did not hap­pen, and the coun­cil should be con­grat­u­lated.

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