Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Feasting on the ratepayer

The City of Melbourne is dining in at our expense estimated at to be anywhere from around $250,000 to $750,000 a year for in-house catering costs

The Lord mayor is said to spend up big holding regular State like functions wineing and dining the many visitors and guests to our city.

Councillors and senior staff enjoy a full course meal every meeting and staff regularly serve light meals, snacks and drinks at the numerous functions and seminars held within the town hall. It makes the State Parliament dinning room look like a tuck shop.

Senior Council staff also add to the bill by ordering takeaway, or dine-out at expensive restaurants when it suits, picking up the tab on the corporate credit card.

One staff member put on the Council credit card the cost of $100/person for a night out for the entire delegation on one of the Council's many overseas junkets. Because the cost was allocated to the staff members account the amount spent did not show up on the Councillors' expense statement. Cleaver creative accounting recipes in how to cook the books.

There are many Municipal Councils who would die to have access to half of the Council's catering bill - just to meet necessary community expenses let alone the luxury entertainment enjoyed by staff and councillors down at town hall.

Some Councillors have been reported as saying the quality of the in-house catering is not to their likening and the food just goes to waste left untouched on the plate until deposited in the bin

There are homeless people on the streets of Melbourne who go without a meal and are lucky if they can afford the cost of a Big Mac.

We have requested the Council provide detailed cost breakdown of the Council's in-house catering bill but to date have not received any response to our request.

Surely the Council maintains an account of this expenditure in its financial analysis, if not then why not, if yes then publish the details. Show us the bill and do not forget the tips and cost of alcohol.

It would appear that the only way to obtain information on the expenditure of the City Council is via Freedom of Information. This is a clear abuse of process as Council have an obligation to make this information available without the need to apply under FoI.

As s0on as we get a meaningful reply to our request we will publish it for all to see but don't hold back your appetite waiting... we expect it will be a long wait before it is served.

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