Party costs soar

• Having to contract traffic controllers meant balloons weren’t the only things inflating last Christmas. 

VINCENT ratepayers have footed a $5,274 bill for a few dozen people to attend three Christmas street parties.

Vincent council staff approved the “community support grants” in December 2020 after two groups of residents applied to close their roads to hold street parties. 

The grants are intended for organisations or individuals with a project that addresses “a key social issue within our local community”.

Former councillor Dudley Maier picked up on the massive bills after noticing they were about 10 times pricier than parties had been in previous years.

The 2020 Dunedin Street Christmas party grant cost ratepayers $2,498 for traffic management fees and $84 to lodge the road closure with police. That’s up from $132 for its 2019 Christmas party, and $181 for 2018. 

Another 2020 Christmas party in East Street cost $2,498 for traffic management, $84 for police lodgement fees, and ratepayers also shelled out $193 for a face painter, Christmas decorations and catering.

Mayor Emma Cole said an increase in street party application last year coincided with the city’s rangers being unavailable to provide traffic management, so contractors had to be hired in.

“Contractor costs vary depending on a number of factors, including whether the event takes place on a public holiday or weekend,” Ms Cole said.

“We’re looking at additional measures to keep traffic management costs down next financial year. For example, event timings to happen when rangers are more readily available and more cost effective dates, such as a Saturday event instead of a Sunday.”

Rangers managed traffic at a couple of other 2020 Christmas parties costed at $860 for their time, but the council covers the cost as “in-kind” funding rather than being a separate expense.

by DAVID BELL

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