The Waitaki District Council has only one credit card which is locked in the council safe and requires authorisation by the chief executive or financial manager before it can be used.
The ODT reports that in the last two years it had been used for just 24 transactions totalling $11,126.
The Dunedin City Council has a less Presbyterian approach to credit cards. The ODT found that in the last three years the DCC’s 206 credit cards had been used for purchases totalling more than $4.8 million.
Exactly what those purchases were has not been divulged because council chief executive Jim Harland wants the paper to pay the cost of getting the spending details.
In his response, Mr Harland said he would detail the spend after the newspaper paid the estimated $8278 it would cost to research, collate, and produce it.
The newspaper’s last request was processed free of charge, despite the draw on council staff hours, as he accepted there needed to be a degree of accountability for senior staff, he said. . .
. . . Mr Harland cited privacy and harassment concerns to decline the newspaper’s request to release information about staff who might have apologised, made repayments, or had otherwise been spoken to about possibly inappropriate spending.
Mr Harland also declined to release the positions and names of those behind the $4.3 million spend, citing privacy and harassment concerns.
Naming them would subject them to publicity not warranted by their positions, he said.
THe ODT isn’t the only paper having problems extracting information on council credit cards. The Sunday Star Times is attempting to find out who Manakau mayor Len Brown wined and dined to the sum of $810 charged to his mayoral card.
If council employees are spending council money on council business, where’s the problem? If they’re not, don’t the public whose rates fund councils have a right to know about it.
If they took as much care to use the card correctly as the Waitaki Council does they, and their ratepayers, would have nothing to worry about.