The City of Rockingham has come under fire for spending nearly $30,000 on fruit for staff. Waikiki resident Dianne Park said in the last 12 months the city reported almost $29,000 in payments to fruit supply company Fruit at Work. “This represents the average rates of 22 ratepayers,” Ms Park said. The resident said that in March of 2023, the city spent $7000 on fruit, although most of the monthly payments ranged between $2000 and $2500. Ms Park asked a series of questions including whether the spending was appropriate given rates were increasing this financial year. Mayor Deb Hamblin took the question on notice at the meeting but confirmed the figures on Thursday. Ms Hamblin said the City had more than 750 staff members and the cost of the fruit-for-work service was around 74 cents per week for each employee. “The fruit-for-work service is part of the City’s Wellness Program and helps to build a positive culture in the workplace by promoting and encouraging healthy choices,” she said. “Unlike many workplaces, the City does not provide tea or coffee to staff, preferring to focus on healthy options instead. “The City places a high priority on its employees’ health and safety. The City’s Wellness Program is a low-cost, simple initiative that is designed to promote healthy living in the workplace.” The spending sparked outrage from residents, with one writing: “As my rates have just gone up by almost a thousand dollars I am NOT HAPPY that my money goes to this. Let the workers bring their own food.” “If other employees have to take their own food to work every day or buy their meals, so should councillors. They get plenty of money for what they do — they should have to pay for everything out of pocket like any other employee,” another person wrote. The city raised rates by 3.9 per cent in its 2023-2024 budget.