Out-of-pocket money

By Ewan McDonald

They rubbished Manukau Mayor Len Brown's credit card bills, but his attackers are among the city's high-spending councillors. Dick Quax and Jami-Lee Ross even claimed for going to Anzac ceremonies, reports Ewan McDonald.
Manukau councillors Dick Quax and Jami-Lee Ross - who attacked Mayor Len Brown over his credit card spending - are among their council's biggest claimants for expenses and mileage repayments.
Council records released to The Aucklander under the Official Information Act show both men required the city to repay them for driving to Anzac Day ceremonies.
Cr Quax and Cr Ross are standing for the right-wing Citizens and Ratepayers ticket at the first Auckland Council elections in October.
Their group is actively campaigning against Mr Brown, who leads John Banks of Auckland City in the race to be the first Mayor of the new Auckland region.
There's no suggestion of the councillors' claims being improper, or outside council rules.
Cr Quax claimed $5037.21 general expenses from November 1, 2007, to May 31 this year.
The next highest claimant was Cr David Collings, $4610.03 in the same period. Cr Ross was third-highest with $4090.78 in general expenses.
Adding mileage reimbursement claims, Cr Collings heads the tables with $11,033.43 repayment. Cr Quax is second at $10,834.96 while Cr Ross claimed a total of $8537.43.
At the other end of the scale, Cr Colleen Brown sought only $224 expenses and $1771 mileage - just $1995 out-of-pocket spending, despite working on four council committees and representing the city on six regional bodies.
Both Cr Quax and Cr Ross are well ahead of the average across 16 councillors - $1874.93 expenses and $4229 mileage, a total of $6104.
The bulk of Cr Quax's seven small-print pages of claims relate to broadband, print paper and cartridges.
They include:
$11.20 for driving to a speed-reading course
$1.54 for driving 2km to a Pakuranga Community Board meeting
$28.70 for driving to a flooded property in Whitford.

Cr Quax lives 12.3km away, in
$14.90 "dinner after TTP consideration went late"
$1197.67 expenses at the Ocean Pointe Hotel, Vancouver, for a conference on graffiti, one of several claims relating to that conference. According to its website, "the Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort Hotel and Spa is ideally located directly on the breathtaking inner harbour of Victoria". It offers an indoor solarium pool, sauna, hot tub, fitness facility, squash and tennis courts.
Cr Ross' claims also run to seven pages and include regular bills for communications costs and in his role on the council's hearings committee. He also claimed $14 for driving to an Anzac ceremony in 2008.
At the recent council meeting when Cr Ross and Cr Quax attacked Mr Brown's spending, councillors pointed out that Cr Ross has chaired the performance and accountability committee for three years. He also sits on the audit and risk committee which gets regular reports on the mayor's and councillors' spending.
The two men have set up a website carrying the Citizens and Ratepayers banner to promote their bid for the Auckland Council, www.quax-ross.co.nz. On it they say: "As your councillors it has been our priority to protect citizens and ratepayers from waste, inefficiency, political correctness and council secrecy."
How much do you pay them?
The Remuneration Authority determines a pool of money for each council to allocate as "salaries" to elected members. This does not include expenses. It also sets the mayor's salary (Len Brown: $162, 193 in 2010). The full council decides the pay for the deputy mayor, councillors, council chairs, community board chairs and members.
In February Manukau councillors voted to accept a 2.7 per cent pay increase. Cr Daniel Newman said this was unfair because it capped employees' pay rises at 2 per cent a fortnight earlier.
Deputy Mayor Gary Troup receives $87,000; Maggie Burrill, policy and activities chair, $74,000; Anne Candy, environmental hearings chair, $72,000. As a committee chair Jamie-Lee Ross receives $70,000; as Safe City "portfolio leader", Dick Quax is on $70,000.
Franklin council cheap to keep
Franklin District's 12 councillors, its mayor and community boards have claimed significantly fewer expenses than Manukau councillors Dick Quax or Jami-Lee Ross.
Council figures released to The Aucklander under the Official Information Act show total expenses claimed by Mayor Mark Ball, the councillors and community boards at $3247.34.
One of the largest reimbursements was for a dinner with representatives from Hara-mura (a Japanese "friendly town" partner with Pukekohe) in 2008 for $420.44.
Apart from two community board members and a councillor going to conferences in 2009 and 2010, the rest was mostly the mayor's telephone expenses.
On top of this are the following travelling expense reimbursements (taxis, parking and mileage) from October 2007 to April 10, 2010:
Brendon Crompton $2455
Jennie Hayman $6945
Sue Jackson $2631
Deputy Mayor Murray Kay $468
Daniel Lynch $6051
Jill Morris* $2748
Des Morrison $1603
Lionel Petersen $3735
Magan Ranchhod $4032
John Rennie $6310
Dennis Robertson $3764
Peter Sands $5423
* Resigned April 16, 2010

- The Aucklander

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