CITY of Ballarat staff used their work purchase cards for almost $300,000 worth of travel, accommodation and meeting expenses in the past three years.
Between 2010-11 and 2012-13, total meeting and conference costs were $102,190, while $66,576 was spent on accommodation and $51,675 allocated for travel and taxis.
A bill of $38,706 was racked up for airfares, while $32,908 was spent on international travel and delegations.
That figure included a $8338 transaction for “Super Trade Mission India” in January 2012 and $3500 for a return travel trip to Ballarat’s sister city Inagawa in October 2012.
City of Ballarat chief executive officer Anthony Schinck defended the amounts, saying that much of it went to ensuring Ballarat was able to effectively lobby for projects and investment.
He conceded the public may think the money spent on accommodation and hospitality was high, but said it was being spent properly.
“Realistically when you’re comparing those numbers to the tens and hundreds of millions of dollars that we’re attempting to attract ... those numbers look OK,” Mr Schinck said.
Total spending on the council debit cards has increased from $1.9 million to $3.7 million in the 2012-13 financial year, according to analysis of transactions made in the past three financial years.
The council puts the increase down to a new policy for procurement to use the cards more often, which it says is cheaper and better at fraud detection.