Auckland's cash-strapped council is spending thousands of dollars a year moving desks and chairs for mayor Len Brown and his councillors.
The furniture to-and-fro has angered some councillors. George Wood slammed the "huge cost' this week. But Brown defends his decision as "an absolute bargain".
Wood said the desks and chairs, which previously belonged to Waitakere City Council, were moved from the Auckland Town Hall to Henderson for council meetings a couple of times a year. After each meeting, they are returned.
"They have to dismantle all the desks, put them in trucks and then put them back to together ... [it's] just kind of symptomatic of a malaise that's in this council at the moment."
Fellow councillor Sharon Stewart said she couldn't believe it the first time the furniture was moved.
She and fellow councillor Calum Penrose queried the action in 2011, but Stewart said on Friday nothing had changed.
"When we go to Franklin or Orewa we're happy to sit at trestle tables, but at Henderson the full monty has to go."
The desks — at least 25 were moved each time — were badly chipped, she said.
"The mayor's one is the worst."
TV broadcaster Paul Henry, who has repeatedly criticised council spending, told the Herald on Sunday the furniture moving is "bloody ridiculous".
"What we as ratepayers hear from them is how great they are because they're moving their meetings to the people. The reality is the people are paying a bloody fortune for that. God, they're bastards, aren't they?"
Manurewa Local Board chairwoman Angela Dalton said her board had been seeking a $40,000 sound system for three years, as the public could not hear meetings — yet the council was spending thousands of dollars moving furniture around.
"I know they will say 'you're nickel and dimeing', but we are nickel and dimeing at the moment. Every dollar counts."
The council must slash $2.8 billion of spending over the next 10 years for Brown to keep rate increases to 2.5 per cent this term.
An Auckland Council spokesman said the exact cost of moving the furniture was not available before the Herald on Sunday deadline. Furniture removers estimated a single move of 25 desks and chairs between the city centre and Henderson at between $322 and $871.
Brown said he stood by his decision, although he would consider buying permanent furniture for the Henderson meetings.
"To enable our communities to come visit, observe us, get a sense that we are committed to all parts of the city, then democratically for the building of good Super City unity, I think it's absolutely value for money." Brown said the council was not in financial trouble.
"What we're doing is balancing the need for us to invest in a prudent way ... with reasonable borrowing and keeping low rates."