City of Ballarat CEO Anthony Schinck explains purchase card spending

CITY of Ballarat chief executive officer Anthony Schinck has contacted selected community leaders explaining how the council spent more than $60,000 on coffee in three years.

In an email leaked to The Courier after it was sent to selected city “stakeholders”, Mr Schinck defended council staff and objected to the perception of “wrongdoing” over the council’s card purchases.

It comes after documents released under Freedom of Information laws uncovered tens of thousands of transactions made on the council’s work purchase cards.

Mr Schinck explained in the email that the expenditure on coffee wasn’t due to council staff buying “lots of cups of coffee for themselves and for meetings on their cards”.

He said $8500 had been spent on coffees at business meetings over three years while $30,600 was used to buy coffee and coffee-related products for its commercial cafe operations, $2700 went on coffee supplies for volunteers and $16,900 on office and public facility supplies.

The council did spend money on airfares and accommodation, Mr Schinck said, with a large part of the international cost down to the need to attend meetings and events as a board member of the UNESCO World League of Historic Cities.

The city had also done business with China, attended sister city celebrations in Japan last year and travelled to meetings in Melbourne and Canberra.

Mr Schinck explained that the amount spent on purchase cards had increased greatly over three years as the council had proactively pushed more transactions to purchase cards.

He said all of the expenses were directly related to work, projects and services the council provided.

“The hardest pill to swallow is the impact that this has had on the community’s perception of all our people who work hard and diligently to advance the city and do the right thing by our residents,” he said.

The Courier investigation revealed council staff bought more than $63,000 worth of coffee with their work purchase cards in the past three years.

Between the 2010 and 2013 financial years, council staff also had $300,000 worth of travel, accommodation and meeting expenses and spent $139,826 on meals, $134,566 on gifts, and $105,224 on iPads and iPhones.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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