Munching through ratepayer money

HUNGER BUSTER: Savouries are a common sight at Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board meetings.

Community board members have chomped through just over $49,000 of biscuits, candy and savouries since they were elected.

That is the catering bill ratepayers have funded for community board meetings since the election in 2016.

The biggest spender was Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board.

The nine members have eaten food to the value of $10,000.

Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board chairman Mike Mora defended the expenses.

He said catering at meetings is a “necessity.”

Community boards meet every two to three weeks, but take a recess from January to December.

“I don’t think it’s right for people sitting for two or three hours with hunger pains,” Mr Mora said.

Mr Mora said the food was also available to city council staff members and members of the public who attended meetings.

“Personally, I think it’s for
the wider benefit of everybody who attends the meeting to be able to have a sandwich, a savoury or a bit of fruit,” Mr Mora said.

Board deputy chairwoman Helen Broughton was “shocked” to learn her board was the top spender.

She said the board will discuss the food expenses in two weeks.

“We’re going to have to have a serious discussion – does it continue at all or does it continue at a lesser level?” Ms Broughton said.

“It’s far too much to be spending,” she said.

Ms Broughton also said the board never made it clear to members of the public attending meetings they could share in the food.

Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board spent the least on catering.

The board only caters for meetings which have a “substantial” agenda or if
it is combined with other
boards.

Chairman Sam MacDonald said the board decided early into its current term that catering meetings was not a good use of ratepayers’ money.

“I think the reality is that in any workplace, [catering is] not something that’s readily available or readily offered.”

Mr MacDonald said the food that’s usually provided are biscuits and lollies.

“We were just cognisant of
the fact that in the end, we represent the community and
are outcomes focused and we need to be mindful with ratepayers’ funds,” Mr MacDonald said.

A variety of caterers are used by the community boards, and sometimes the food is purchased from supermarkets, city council head of community support, governance and partnership John Filsell said.

WHAT HAS BEEN SPENT ON FOOD:

Banks Peninsula Community Board

2016/17: $3399.56

2017/18: $3709

2018/19: $1092.98

Total: $8201.54

Coastal-Burwood Community Board

2016/17: $3668.53

2017/18: $3687.73

2018/19: $1647.76

Total: $9004.02

Fendalton-Waimairi-Harewood Community Board

2016/17: $1616.78

2017/18: $742.57

2018/19: $363.73

Total: $2723.08

Halswell-Hornby-Riccarton Community Board

2016/17: $4495.46

2017/18: $4515.04

2018/19: $1061.75

Total: $10,072.25

Linwood-Central-Heathcote Community Board

2016/17: $2634.90

2017/18: $4574.60

2018/19: $1429.64

Total: $8639.14

Papanui-Innes Community Board

2016/17: $2371

2017/18: $2606

2018/19: $331

Total: $5308

Spreydon-Cashmere Community Board

2016/17: $2328.83

2017/18: $2484.44

2018/19: $900

Total: $5713.27

Total from 2016/17 to October 2018/19: $49,661.30

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