As reported in the Hawke's Bay Today, a New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union analysis of catering costs at Hawke's Bay councils has revealed Hastings District Councillors to be guilty of ratepayer-funded gluttony.
Hastings District Council spent $50,375.88 on catering for its elected members in 2017 – or about $1,000 a week. Across all of Council, the total catering expense was a staggering $116,371.19.
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council also spent a significant $44,955.63 on catering across Council. At Central Hawke’s Bay District Council this figure was $34,362.36, and even the small Wairoa District Council spent $29,623.77.
In contrast, Napier District Council spent just $4,285.44 on catering across all of Council.
Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “Why is it that Hastings District Councillors need to spend more than ten times the amount on food than Napier’s entire Council? What could possibly be the explanation for this? Do Hastings’ Councillors have eyes bigger than their stomachs, are they forgetting to eat their morning Weet-bix?”
“A tip-off reveals a possible explanation – Instagram posts from a local caterer advertise the lavish platters prepared for the Council. It appears Councillors are eating better than the ratepayers who fund their salaries.”
“Ratepayers are forced to pack their own lunch to save money, while the Council’s feasts are featured on Instagram. This gluttony is a slap in the face for ratepayers who expect their money to be used on essential services. Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst ought to make a captain’s call, and scrap ratepayer-funded feasts in favour of the old-fashioned packed lunch.”
Catering expenses at Hawke’s Bay Councils, 2017:
- Hastings District Council: $116,371.19 (Further enquiry revealed $50,375.88 was for elected members)
- Hawke's Bay Regional Council: $44,955.63
- Central Hawke's Bay District Council: $34,362.36
- Wairoa District Council: $29,623.77
- Napier City Council: $4,285.44
All figures were obtained under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.
Catering expenses for councils across the country will be released by the Taxpayers' Union in coming days.