Councillors Call for Independent Audit of Mudtopia

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It seems the Mudtopia fiasco continues, as the media have reported that the final cost of Mudtopia to Rotorua ratepayers was more than $30,000 higher than previously thought.

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Under a Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act request, the Rotorua Lakes Council has revealed it spent a total of $1,681,814 delivering the event. In response to Rotorua Daily Post questions, the council has confirmed the loss suffered was $600,238.

It was also revealed that the cost for festival directors was $397,996 – the second biggest expense behind materials and services provided at $778,000.

Two Rotorua councillors are calling for a more in-depth, independent review into the cost of Mudtopia.

Raj Kumar and Peter Bentley said the public still had questions about the event which was dogged with issues, including the cost to ratepayers, controversy over importing mud and ticket giveaways. “There are so many questions being asked out there by the public with regard to finances,” Bentley said. “I’d like to see an independent, forensic audit.”

Bentley took aim at the almost $400,000 which had been spent on festival directors. He said in his opinion, “it seems exorbitant for a three-day function”.

Kumar said he didn’t believe the final report into the costs was good enough and it needed to have more detail. “It’s still a very dominant topic of conversation with ratepayers. They’ve still got questions. If the public perception is there’s something funny going on we’ve got to put their fears to bed.” Kumar said the council had a “responsibility to ratepayers”.

One of the organisers of the controversial Mudtopia festival has admitted the company established to run the event is being closed – but he denies the move was aimed at pre-empting future legal action.

Scott Rice, who co-ran Event Engines with Simon Brady, confirmed the closure to Stuff. “The company is being closed down because Simon accepted a senior role at another events company. That’s it, plain and simple,” Rice said. “There’s nothing in it. It’s simple.”

Rice said any finance questions around Mudtopia should be directed at the council.

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