Humvee among answers to mayor's motor woes

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 19/12/2013

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Wairarapa

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Carterton Mayor Ron Mark has driven his council colleagues to flights of fancy by asking to be given a mayoral car.

One joked that a Humvee might be more appropriate, while another said he ought to follow Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown's example and get on his bike.

Mr Mark said he wasn't bothered about the marque: "I'm not after a Rolls-Royce or a Holden Triple S or whatever," he told a meeting of Carterton District Council.

"I'd be quite happy with a Toyota."

If the council grants his request, he would become the first Carterton mayor to have a council vehicle.

"I would have thought he could make use of a pool car," councillor Mike Ashby said.

But if he had a council car, "perhaps it should be painted in daffodils - I know how much he likes daffodils," he added, referring to Carterton's traditional symbol.

Mike Palmers thought a Humvee might be more in keeping, while Elaine Brazendale suggested he should cycle.

Greg Lang said he should follow Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt's example of having promotional sign-writing on the mayoral car - "like Tim and his concrete mixer".

Deputy mayor John Booth said a "good, tidy car" could represent better value than the mayor claiming mileage.

Mr Mark had a simple explanation for why he had not claimed mileage in his first term: "It's a pain in the arse."

However, a recent breakdown of his partner's car had stranded him at home, about 10 minutes' drive east of the town, and he was also beginning to count the cost of council-related travel.

He had tried to use a pool car, but found it unavailable.

Under Remuneration Authority rules, a mayor's salary is not reduced if a mayoral vehicle is used exclusively for council business, which would be the case with Mr Mark.

The council could handle the car's cost as an unbudgeted item, council chief executive Colin Wright said.

South Wairarapa District Council had always had a mayoral car, which mayor Adrienne Staples drove to and from her home and around the district's three towns.

If she was not using it, staff members often did, Mr Wright said.

However, this would be impractical in Carterton, as Mr Mark tended to work from home.

A motion was passed that the council would "look into purchasing the mayor a vehicle", and that a working group make decisions around the type, cost, usage rules and any signwriting.

Many councils provide mayoral cars, but they are not always needed. A spokesman for Ms Wade-Brown said she used a pool car when necessary, but usually walked, biked or took public transport.

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Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson uses her 1955 maroon Morris Minor around town, but takes a pool car for council business further afield.

- The Dominion Post

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