Tauranga Mayor quits car to save money

By John Cousins

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Tauranga Mayor Stuart Crosby has decided to give up one of the time-honoured perks of the job to help with belt tightening.

Mr Crosby yesterday announced he was quitting the mayoral car which had been his main form of transport for the last four years.

Instead he would buy himself a small economical car and charge the council mileage of $3500 a year for about 5000km.

The gesture would shave nearly $14,400 off the annual $895,000 rates-funded bill for the political wing of the council.

Mr Crosby's surprise announcement came as councillors were briefly considering how much they would get paid next year.

The issue was more or less decided for them because the Remuneration Authority had frozen Tauranga's pool of money at $758,828 for councillors - meaning there would be no pay increases this year. In line with other mayors, the authority increased Mr Crosby's gross salary by $4600 to $136,700.<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

Mr Crosby's decision to forgo the mayoral car was made as his 2008 Honda Accord was coming up for replacement.

The council's policy was to trade in petrol-powered cars when they reached 100,000km and a new mayoral car would have cost ratepayers about $43,000.

Councillor Murray Guy said he thought that a mayoral car would have been almost a necessity for running visitors around the city.

"I remember Greg Brownless [a former councillor] got a Rent a Dent to pick up a Chinese delegation."

His concerns were answered by democracy manager Yvonne Tatton who said the council hired "appropriate vehicles" for important visitors.

Councillor Larry Baldock applauded the decision, saying the mayor was leading by example in the economic climate. "It is a good message to send to ratepayers that we are all having to tighten our belts."

Mr Crosby said the mileage allowance only kicked in after the first 30km had been clocked up and he would not be claiming for the 32km round trip from his home at Papamoa. He would only claim for longer trips taken in his capacity as mayor.

The annual running cost of the mayor's car was $17,900 a year, meaning the net saving would be about $14,400 once his mileage allowance was paid.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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