Car price high­est in coun­try

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS - By SUE DUD­MAN

Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil chair­man Bruce Gor­don is driv­ing the most ex­pen­sive coun­cil-pur­chased ve­hi­cle of any New Zealand lo­cal gov­ern­ment elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The New Zealand Tax­pay­ers’ Union has re­leased de­tails of elected rep­re­sen­ta­tives’ ve­hi­cles, with Gor­don’s $97,000 BMW X4 far and away the most ex­pen­sive. Next high­est on the list is In­ver­cargill mayor Tim Shad­bolt’s Chrysler 300C at $72,323.

The Tax­pay­ers’ Union re­port says Gor­don’s ve­hi­cle was pur­chased by the coun­cil in Novem­ber 2016 and he has ap­proval for of­fi­cial and per­sonal use.

The cost of the ve­hi­cle is de­ducted from Gor­don’s salary, which in Septem­ber this year rose 8.5 per cent to $135,054.

Tax­pay­ers’ Union re­searcher Shani Ben­nik, who com­piled the fig­ures, said Shad­bolt’s ve­hi­cle was iden­ti­fied the most ex­pen­sive may­oral ve­hi­cle in the coun­try but “Hori­zons Re­gional Coun­cil Chair­man Bruce Gor­don man­ages to make mayor Shad­bolt look fru­gal”.

“It is a dis­grace­ful sense of en­ti­tle­ment that he sees fit to have the most ex­pen­sive ve­hi­cle of any elected lo­cal of­fi­cial in New Zealand,” Ben­nik said.

“Maybe, when the coun­cil pur­chased the $97,000 BMW X4, they thought this kind of lux­ury was the norm. It’s not — the cost of Mr Gor­don’s ve­hi­cle sticks out like a sore thumb, mak­ing other coun­cil chairs and even the most ex­trav­a­gant may­ors look fru­gal.

“Mr Gor­don risks giv­ing ratepay­ers in Manawatu¯ Wan­ganui the im­pres­sion that their money is taken for pri­vate lux­u­ries in­stead of es­sen­tial ser­vices.”

Gor­don said he ac­cepted the per­cep­tion that his ve­hi­cle was “not a good look” but he be­lieved the net cost to the ratepayer was no higher than for any other ve­hi­cle.

“I pay $27,000 a year over three years to­wards the cost of the ve­hi­cle,” Gor­don said.

“The high value re­flects the high trade-in price. I ap­pre­ci­ate that it’s ratepay­ers’ money. At the end of each three years, I firmly be­lieve that the ratepayer is bet­ter off.”

Gor­don said the ac­tual cost to the coun­cil was not $97,000 as it claimed GST on the ve­hi­cle.

While he had ap­proval for per­sonal use of the ve­hi­cle, Gor­don said he had his own com­mer­cial ute at home and used that most of the time.

“I do 12,000km a year in that. I’d be sur­prised if I did more than 3000km a year per­son­ally [in the BMW].”

The pur­chase of the BMW was signed off by Hori­zons’ chief ex­ec­u­tive, deputy chair and au­dit and risk com­mit­tee chair. How­ever, coun­cil­lors had some con­cerns about the pur­chase of the BMW and in fu­ture the coun­cil would au­tho­rise pur­chase of ve­hi­cles.

“I’m very happy about that,” Gor­don said.

In com­par­i­son, Whanganui mayor Hamish McDouall drives a $43,000 Honda CR-V, Ruapehu mayor Don Cameron has a $28,855 Ford Fo­cus for of­fi­cial du­ties only and South Taranaki mayor Ross Dun­lop drives a $42,792 Out­lander PHEV 4WD. Ran­gi­tikei mayor Andy Wat­son does not have a coun­cil-pur­chased ve­hi­cle and has no fuel al­lowance.

PHOTO / BE­VAN CON­LEY

Hori­zons chair­man Bruce Gor­don has a coun­cil-pur­chased $97,000 BMW X4.

Hori­zons chair­man Bruce Gor­don.

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