Credit card total at nearly $22,000

Charles Hakkaart.
Charles Hakkaart.
The Clutha District Council has spent $21,893.67 on its single credit card in the past two years.

The figures were released under the Official Information Act after the Otago Daily Times requested the credit-card details from July 2008 to June 2010.

About three-quarters of the spending, with a combined total of $16,466.08, was on accommodation, flights, food and drink, including $2094.50 on a dinner at Bacchus restaurant and wine bar, in Dunedin, last year, which was reimbursed by councillors.

Chief executive Charles Hakkaart said while the credit card was kept in his wallet, anyone else in the organisation could use it.

It was not used very often, and in most cases, the purchase had been pre-approved by the relevant department manager, he said.

His transactions were approved by Clutha Mayor Juno Hayes.

Mr Hakkaart said he had not tallied up the council's spending over the past two years, and when told the total by the Otago Daily Times, said it was a lot less than other councils had spent.

The card was mainly used for purchasing things over the internet, such as computer equipment ($620, Mighty Ape), DVDs and manuals for staff training ($325.68, Paypal), and airline flights, he said.

Airline tickets from Vincent George House of Travel were purchased for Mayor Hayes' trip to the New Zealand Expo in Shanghai, China, earlier this year. That trip was approved by a full council meeting.

Mr Hakkaart said the council invoiced the cost of the meals at Bacchus on August 11 last year back to each councillor.

"There were about 20 of them and they ended up paying about $100 each."

Other food expenses included $118.50 at the Lake Waihola Cafe on November 13, 2008, where three managers and "a couple of councillors" had lunch while involved in a subdivision hearing.

Between July 28 and August 27, 2008, the card was used to pay for $7200.18 in travel and accommodation costs - the most expensive month in the two-year period.

July 29 shows flight tickets to Auckland at $570, followed by a convention management fee of $1200 on July 30.

Mr Hakkaart said he attended a three-day Society of Local Government Managers meeting each year, and the charges included registration and booking fees.

July 31 shows two charges, of $803.54 and $649.64, made at the Sudima Hotel, Rotorua, where the mayor and chief executive attended a conference.

A local government zone meeting was held in Wellington, and a charge of $395.50 was made at the Brentwood Hotel on August 4.

One of the council's engineering staff attended Ingenium in Thames on August 15 at a cost of $799.

On August 18, $2749.50 was spent at the Edgewater Resort Hotel in Wanaka.

The Clutha District Council travelled from Southland to South Canterbury looking at wastewater systems, Mr Hakkaart said.

A busload of councillors and employees travelled between Invercargill, Queenstown, Wanaka, Dunedin, Oamaru and Timaru in two days, spending the night at the Wanaka resort.

"It was a coincidence that it all happened in one month," Mr Hakkaart said.


Clutha District Council's single credit card:
• $21,893.67 charged in two years
• $7500 limit
• $7860.60 on accommodation
• $5601.40 on flights
• $3004 on food and drink


- rachel.taylor@odt.co.nz

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