Coun­cil hits brakes over staff taxi costs

Kapi-Mana News - - OUT & ABOUT - JARED NICOLL

Porirua coun­cil staff will be told to put the brakes on travel costs af­ter an au­dit found al­most $1500 went on taxi rides in Porirua and Welling­ton over the past year.

Porirua City Coun­cil staff are sup­posed to use pool cars or public trans­port ex­cept when trav­el­ling to Welling­ton Air­port, but an in­ter­nal au­dit on sen­si­tive ex­pen­di­tures pre­sented to the coun­cil’s au­dit and risk com­mit­tee last month found $1434 was spent on taxi trips within Welling­ton and Porirua be­tween July 2016 and April 2017.

That amount was part of a to­tal of $6624 spent on taxis.

Porirua City Coun­cil gen­eral man­ager of peo­ple and ca­pa­bil­ity Jerry Wrenn said the coun­cil ex­pected its staff to use the ‘‘most ef­fec­tive’’ mode of trans­port when trav­el­ling on busi­ness.

‘‘Over­all, taxi use is not ex­ces­sive,’’ Wrenn said.

‘‘How­ever, there have been a num­ber of in­stances where staff taxi use was out­side our pol­icy and these ap­pear to be a com­bi­na­tion of avail­abil­ity of pool cars dur­ing peak load­ing, one-off emer­gen­cies and mis­un­der- stand­ings on what is ac­cept­able taxi use.

‘‘[The] coun­cil will be re­view­ing its doc­u­men­ta­tion to make sure it’s clear, and will be re­mind­ing staff of their obli­ga­tions.’’

Taxi use would con­tinue to be mon­i­tored to check for com­pli­ance, Wrenn said.

‘‘In­stances were noted where taxis, in­clud­ing Uber, have been used for busi­ness trips to and from Welling­ton and lo­cally around Porirua,’’ the re­port said.

The risks of this were not only to cost­ef­fec­tive­ness but to the coun­cil’s rep­u­ta­tion, it said.

A coun­cil spokes­woman said the coun­cil owned 15 pool cars, in­clud­ing Prius hatch­backs, sta­tion wagons, a Hyundai IXE5, Ford Fo­cus SW and two Ford tran­sits.

On the whole, ex­pen­di­ture was in ac­cor­dance with pol­icy, re­lated to coun­cil busi­ness and ap­peared rea­son­able and ap­pro­pri­ate. For ex­am­ple, the ma­jor­ity of air travel re­lated to staff at­tend­ing train­ing cour­ses and con­fer­ences.

There was also aware­ness of the pur­chase card pol­icy, and the stan­dards re­quired of coun­cil staff.

Where per­sonal costs were in­curred on a coun­cil pur­chase card in er­ror, the costs were high­lighted by the card­holder prior to the state­ment be­ing ap­proved, and re­paid to the coun­cil.

Porirua City Coun­cil says it will be ‘‘re­mind­ing staff of their obli­ga­tions’’ on taxi use, and will con­tinue to mon­i­tor spend­ing.

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