Auckland Council has spent around $9.3 million on pollsters and used at least 44 external consultancies, according to new figures.
The spending includes about $310,000 on a people's panel to get feedback on a wide range of council issues over a four-year period, according to figures provided to councillor Cameron Brewer under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.
The mayoral office has separately spent $253,206 on polls over four years, which the council said was in line with Mayor Len Brown's statutory role to lead the development of council plans, policies and budgets.
The council has declined a Herald request under the act for polling on public perceptions of council performance on the grounds it expects to release the material in the next six to eight weeks. A source said it made bad reading for the council.
Mr Brewer said the council and mayoral office spending seemed over the top, particularly when considering cutbacks and service reductions to local communities.
He said he was alarmed the subjects of the mayor's polling were not revealed.
In a response to Mr Brewer, the council said: "Auckland Council invests in market and social research to ensure decision-makers can have confidence in the validity and legitimacy of the information they use to make decisions," adding that the work met the standards of professional and academic research bodies.
The figures do not include surveys and polls commissioned by council-controlled organisations, which Mr Brewer believed would add millions of dollars.
He said ratepayers should be concerned that staff time was recently spent surveying councillors and local board members on what they think of each other and the organisation.
"The council always hides behind the statutory need to consult for the likes of the Annual Plan, but let's not forget the Government amended the Local Government Act to ensure public consultation is now much less arduous," he said. "However despite less annual documentation and consultation legally required, the costs keep going up."
• $9.3 million over four years
• Includes $310,000 spending on people's panel
• Plus $253,206 spending by mayoral office