Waikato Regional Council spent more than $11,000 on a ratepayer-funded shindig to celebrate the opening of its new building in the heart of Hamilton's CBD.
The VIP event was held last Monday and guests included the Kiingi Tuheitia and the Governor-General of New Zealand Dame Patsy Reddy as well as government officials, current and former politicians and friends of council chairman Russ Rimmington.
The event was held in the same month ratepayers were slapped with a 7.7 per cent rates increase for 2021/22,
Most of the expense was $4983.25 on sound, lighting, draping and videography and $5008.50 on afternoon tea for the 200 invitees. The spread, provided by Montana Catering, included sandwiches, sausage rolls and slices. The costs exclude GST.
A small plant-based afternoon tea was also provided for the Governor-General.
Ratepayers also paid $300 on entertainment on a solo singer / guitarist, $525 on safety barriers and $600 on a cultural services fee which covered advice around the cultural aspects of the event and services provided during the event such as the karakia, waerea, karanga and whakatau. There was no cost for the bugler.
Another $291.68 was spent on a notice advising the public the council building would be closed to visitors while the event was being held.
Council chairman Russ Rimmington said it was a "budget event" that was great value for money. He refuted it being called a "shindig".
"There was no booze and the caterer didn't even serve the food," he said.
He said it was important to celebrate all the hard work that went into completing the building and that it was the first time a council had moved into a new building in 40 years.
When asked how the event provided value to ratepayers, he said the guests were networking and celebrating.
"They are not just having a look at the building.
"It was a wonderful, wonderful occasion. I don't know how we did it for the price."
Rimmington's 18-month old granddaughter was also part of the celebrations, being one of three people chosen to raise a flag.
Despite moving from landlord to tenant, the council spent $8.75m on fitting out the new building. The annual rent is $2.51m and $1.107 has been budgeted in operating costs.
The council has already committed to a 15-year lease and has three further rights of renewal at its discretion.
WRC boss Chris McLay said at the event that the building offered a modern working environment that enabled collaboration zones and numerous workspaces and brought the 460 staff housed in eight buildings under one roof.