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Ratepayers foot the bill for $76,000 in shoes for parking wardens

As if parking wardens weren't already costing ratepayers enough in tickets, they're also putting the boot in with surprisingly large footwear costs.

Wellington City Council has spent $75,906.35 on shoes for its parking wardens in the last three years, reveals the New Zealand Taxpayers' Union.

An information response from Wellington City Council shows that the Council purchased 264 pairs of shoes from 2019 and 2021, at an average cost of $287 a pair.

The Council currently employs 57 parking wardens. Each warden is provided with two pairs of shoes (summer and winter), and the shoes are audited and replaced as often as every year.

A Council recruitment video even touts the two free pairs of shoes as one of the many benefits enjoyed by parking wardens. The Council's uniform framework confirms that wardens get to keep their shoes after leaving the role, along with their ratepayer-funded hats, beanies, thermals, and fingerless gloves.

ShoesWellington parking wardens photographed wearing their winter (left) and summer (right) shoes.

Councils should regularly ask themselves whether their bulk purchases and procurement practices represent good value for money. Councils placing large orders, with long-standing relationships with suppliers, should be able to leverage off this to receive discounts.

Alternatively, the Council could simply follow typical practice in the private sector and offer each warden an allowance of, say, $200 a year to source their own shoes, cutting expenses in half. As it stands, the wardens are handed expensive shoes with no regard for their personal preference. There's even a moral hazard: wardens will happily wear out their ratepayer-funded shoes with personal use.

At the Taxpayers’ Union, we acknowledge that parking wardens need decent shoes, but we urge the Council to put the shoe on the other foot and recognise how ratepayers, hammered with rising living costs, make prudent choices to limit the cost of their own footwear.

The Taxpayers' Union investigated the Council's shoe expenditure after an irate ratepayer sent a tipoff. If you know of a case of government extravagance, waste or misspending, email [email protected].

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