Councillors have voted to increase some of their allowances by as much as 42 per cent, even though their salaries will only rise by 2 per cent this year

May 11, 2020

South Burnett councillors have voted to increase their weekly fuel subsidies by 23 per cent and meal allowances by 42 per cent.

The changes were passed without comment at the SBRC’s April meeting when the latest version of the Expenses Reimbursement Policy for Councillors – last updated in December 2018 – was approved.

By law, all councils are required to have an Expenses Reimbursement Policy which outlines the benefits mayors and councillors receive in addition to their regular salary.

Any updates to the policy must be passed at a public council meeting.

At April’s meeting, councillors voted to increase the weekly fuel subsidy: Division 3 and 4 councillors will now receive $100 each per week (up from $80 and $92); Division 1 and 2 councillors $180 per week (up from $140); and Division 5 and 6 $250 per week (up from $200).

The meeting also voted to increase the meal subsidy – paid when Councillors are away on official Council business – to $35 per breakfast (up from $25); lunches to $50 (up from $35); and dinners to $100 (up from $70).

To claim the allowances, councillors must supply receipts.

The new Expenses Reimbursement Policy was moved by Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones, seconded by Cr Roz Frohloff, and carried unanimously.

Councillors’ salaries are set each year by the independent Local Government Remuneration Commission but councils are free to set extra benefits at whatever level they like.

In November, the Remuneration Commission determined the salaries of Queensland’s mayors and councillors should rise by 2 per cent from July 2020.

The Remuneration Commission said this increase reflected average CPI rises across Australian capitals over the previous year, and was in line with increases already set in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia.

These increases will set the SBRC’s annual mayoral salary at $133,196; deputy mayor at $83,247; and councillors at $70,759.

However – like other councils – the SBRC also provides a range of extra benefits to councillors to cover the cost of doing their jobs.

These include a uniform allowance of $330 per year; a hospitality allowance ($2000 a year for the mayor and $500 a year for councillors); a phone allowance ($3000 a year for the mayor, $2000 a year for councillors); meal costs; and a weekly allowance to cover fuel and reasonable wear and tear on a councillor’s private vehicle.

Councillors also receive a range of non-cash benefits including professional development; insurance cover; legal cover; travel, accommodation and car parking costs if councillors need to leave the region on official council business; and office facilities, computers and mobile phones.

The mayor is entitled to the use of a fully serviced council vehicle at no charge but Mayor Brett Otto has relinquished this benefit.

Mayor Otto has been approached for comment on the new reimbursement policy.

12 Responses to "Councillors Vote To Lift Expenses"

  1. Bill McIntyre  May 12, 2020

    Well that did not take long! Mayor Otto promised to get the finances under control but at this first opportunity to show us that he was fair dinkum he has gone to water. I can’t believe any of these Councillors think they need a $100 for dinner! The new Councillors are not capable of standing up for the ratepayers but I would have thought Kathy Duff might have? Really disappointed.

    Reply
  2. Disappointed  May 12, 2020

    I thought Cr Hook the new ‘strong voice’ for Division 6 was going to be a strong voice for ratepayers and the community. But no, it seems he is a strong voice for lining his own pocket! Disappointing.

    Reply
  3. Disgruntled  May 12, 2020

    No blooming wonder they really scrambled so hard to get the good “snout in the trough” job! As for phones, they have council supplied phones as well as all the other IT gear that they are supplied with. So why, why do they need a handout for a private phone? That’s obscene! It really is!

    I would like to see a full descriptive listing of all the “handout” things that they get and think that they are entitled to. And the fuel handout alone for Div 5 and 6 annually is more than I used to get annually for everything when I served the community some years ago.

    Sorry Councillors, but I can shut my eyes and visualise snouts in the trough! You see, as a farmer of many years ago, almost every farm was a dairy farm supplying cream only. That meant plenty skim milk and pigs to dispose of it. Pigs were not shedded then so feeding was in troughs in the paddock. Mixed grain and milk was super feed and at feed time they really scrambled hard to get as much as they could as quick as they could!! Now Councillors, I’m not saying you are pigs but you can surely see the analogy of “snouts in the trough” phrase.

    Reply
  4. Rod Long  May 12, 2020

    In fairness to Cr Duff, as far as I know she claims next to nothing in perks and pays for her fuel costs out of her own pocket. I don’t think she claims phone costs, either, because she always uses her Council-supplied mobile. This may apply to other Councillors as well.

    Just because a perk exists doesn’t mean anyone actually gets it, or gets the full amount. What would be more interesting to know is what the total amount of perks each Councillor claims after their first year in office.

    Reply
  5. Bouncer  May 12, 2020

    Regarding “meal subsidy – paid when Councillors are away on official Council business”.

    I feel these prices are quite reasonable. Do people really expect our councillors representing the South Burnett to dine at the “Golden Arches” while in Brisbane on council business? Give me a break.

    People complaining about such trivia issues need to “get a life”.

    Reply
  6. Regtown  May 12, 2020

    These are modest allowances. For that level of responsibility and commitment, a similar role in the private sector would pay much higher.

    A business employing a sales rep typically allows an equivalent amount to the salary for travel and general claimable expenses.

    When somebody is elected to Council, they are effectively accepting a discount to their true worth. I guess that’s why it’s called a service to the community.

    Reply
  7. Rod  May 12, 2020

    Great news Councillors. I guess we can look forward to an increase to rates this year. We the taxpayer seem to copping it from every direction. $50 for lunch and & $100 for dinner? Come on, that’s ridiculous. Hope to see some good things happening in Kingaroy in the next 3 years. Free up red tape, promote small business and promote the town. Clean up the town centre so it looks inviting.

    Reply
  8. Disgruntled  May 12, 2020

    Eh, Rod, don’t forget mate: there is more to this shire than Kingaroy. But what hope do the rest have when all but one Councillor lives in or near to Kingaroy?

    We can only wait and see, eh? COVID isn’t going to be kind to us and will definitely burn up an enormous lot of dollars, so the poor Councillors and staff are really going to earn their keep just to keep everything on track and going properly. There will need hard decisions to be made!

    Reply
  9. Lucy  May 13, 2020

    Shame on you all for voting for these expense increases, just a few weeks after having been (re-)elected. And that in the middle of a time when your ratepayers are losing their jobs, their businesses and doing it tough. With such a generous meal allowance, plus other perks and allowances, our councillors will find many occasions for being away on “official council business”… a total of $185 for three meals… not bad.

    There must be many families in this shire who have to feed a whole family for a whole week – or even longer – with such an amount.

    Rest assured, very shortly our councillors will be very sorry to announce a rate increase because the kitty is empty and there are no funds for important things… we all wonder why!

    And I personally also wonder what your election promises – to stand for the people and help them – are really worth? Apparently, not even the value of the paper on which they were printed.

    Reply
  10. Peanut Chipper  May 13, 2020

    These rises in expenses may be modest compared with what executives receive in the private sector, but that’s not the point is it?

    The fact is these councillors were elected on the back of promises to cut council costs. It’s not a good look when one of their first actions after getting power is to vote themselves the option of getting a bit more money so they can order a nicer lunch or dinner when away.

    Reply
  11. Disappointed  May 14, 2020

    There has been some discussion on the necessity of $100 for a ratepayer funded dinner. A quick Google search will show Gympie council have a maximum limit of $45 for a dinner, a much more reasonable figure.

    And the point is there’s a crisis at the moment as well as the new councillors promised to rein in expenses – this is not the time to increase benefits and perks! The community is very disappointed, councillors.

    Reply
  12. Frankie  May 18, 2020

    We are living in a beautiful part of Australia. The people that come to spend their lives and energy into this area are mostly compassionate, caring people that enjoy the peace and beauty of the place.

    It also used to be economically viable as rates were fair. Well, what is happening now, and has been happening, is totally against and belies what people were hoping to enjoy.

    Shame on this new council! You as councillors have an opportunity, a moral responsibility, a duty to the people who trusted you, believed in you, to change this attitude of “more for yourselves, we can do what we want, hopefully in three years’ time the people will have forgotten, why not, other councils have it, we are entitled to this”.

    I could go on but this is the gist of it.

    Or you as mature, responsible, caring, compassionate, workers for the community can at least look at a wider community where, of course, economical management is important, but please don’t diminish yourselves. Work towards a community where the above values are felt, noted and experienced by every person, living and visiting this area. It is Up to you ALL as Councillors.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.