June 30, 2020
A special meeting to reconsider councillors’ expense allowances will be held at the South Burnett Regional Council’s chambers on Wednesday morning (July 1).
The meeting is expected to examine a motion passed in April which increased weekly fuel subsidies by 23 per cent and meal allowances by 42 per cent.
At that meeting, the weekly fuel subsidy for Division 3 and 4 councillors was raised to $100 each per week (up from $80 and $92); Division 1 and 2 councillors to $180 per week (up from $140); and Division 5 and 6 to $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).
The decision to increase the annual expense limits provoked animated discussion after it was announced.
Some readers questioned the timing so soon after a new Council was elected and others its appropriateness, given that many residents have suffered financially during the COVID-19 lockdown and the region was now entering its fourth year of drought.
Councillors must supply receipts in order to claim any expenses and the total amount each councillor claims is reported in Council’s Annual Reports, available on Council’s website
Most expenses are also an unavoidable part of Council work (eg. attending compulsory training courses).
The most recent Annual Report – for 2018-19 – showed most South Burnett councillors claimed between $8500 and $15,000 a year.
For Divisional councillors, vehicle and fuel costs accounted for roughly 60 per cent of their annual claims, followed by training costs and telephone bills.
While COVID-19 restrictions will prevent the public being able to attend Wednesday’s meeting, it will be livestreamed from 9:00am.
- Related article: Councillors Vote To Lift Expenses