A SIX-METRE Christmas tree adorning Vincent council’s foyer in December cost ratepayers $4500.
Former councillor Dudley Maier has been quizzing council administration about who authorised the extravagant tree, which was located inside and not seen by most of the public.
Vincent CEO Len Kosova said that he “authorised this expenditure” and told the Voice “every year we have historically put on really lame attempts at Christmas decorations, and it’s quite often a bit embarrassing when during the December month in particular we have a lot of council meetings, meetings with customers and important civic functions … there was well over 1000 customers and community members coming through the door when the tree was up.
“The money spent was approximately the same as has been spent in previous years by staff going to Spotlight and Bunnings, spending approximately 20 hours (between them) installing decorations themselves, because that’s a cost to the community as well when I’ve got staff doing non-core work installing Christmas decorations on an annual basis.”
Mr Maier still thought $4500 a year sounded like a massive amount, and it shouldn’t cost that much if decorations were reused.
“When I saw the tree I also thought it reflected the worst aspect of what Christmas has become: over-consumption,” he says.
Mr Kosova says he welcomed the financial scrutiny, because when he first joined council all the talk was about the former administration’s bungle that left them facing an $8 million deficit.
“In terms of progress and transparency, I think it’s great we’re having a conversation not about an $8m deficit, but $4500 on decorations, and the reason we’re having this conversation is because we’re very transparent about our expenditure whether it’s $1 or $8m,” he says.
He joked that next year they might just have a “Festivus” tree: a non-denominational Christmas decoration the Costanza family used on Seinfeld, consisting of a bare aluminium pole.
“They’re very affordable indeed,” he laughs.
Meanwhile new mayor Emma Cole flagged that councillors would look at something more visible next year, rather than a tree tucked away in the foyer.
by DAVID BELL