Invercargill mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt says he has been forced to soldier on with a "barely functional" phone because he was considered incapable of using all the features of a new one.
The council is remaining tightlipped over an itemised expenditure for a new iPhone 8+ which was put against the mayor's spending last year.
Last week, Shadbolt told Local Democracy Reporting he had spent the past two years asking the council for a new phone because his iPhone 7 of five years was "very slow".
He said deputy mayor Nobby Clark and chief executive Clare Hadley had insisted he could not have a phone worth more than $300 because he was "considered unable to fully use all the features of an iPhone".
"I soldier on with my very old and barely functional phone," Shadbolt said.
The comments came in response to a question about Shadbolt's spending for his current term in office, after data was obtained on all Southland mayors.
Under Shadbolt's expenditures was a new iPhone 8+ with accessories, listed as being bought on 24 February 2020 for $951.20.
Shadbolt claims he never received it, and the council would neither confirm or deny if he did.
"Thank you for bringing this to our attention ... we are going to discuss these issues directly with the mayor," a council spokesperson said.
Shadbolt also took aim at Hadley, saying she made things difficult when it came to getting purchases approved.
"Every item of expenditure is directed to the CE for refusal.
"I am unable to authorise anything, even bottled water for my empty Mayor's Lounge fridge."
The phone saga is the latest speed bump in Shadbolt's ninth term as mayor of Invercargill, which has featured an independent review, the resignation of a deputy, and claims he's being bullied behind closed doors.
Last week, it was revealed he was not allowed to send out his annual Christmas card on the ratepayer dollar after the chief executive expressed concern it would not meet the auditor general's guidelines.
An e-card was settled on, which will be signed by both Shadbolt and Hadley.
Local Democracy Reporting is a public interest news service supported by RNZ, the News Publishers' Association and NZ On Air.