This further table of shire councillor expenditure figures has been taken from the past two shire annual reports, starting at the date from which the state government made it compulsory for councils to make the figures public.
The table highlights the major expense item for councillors (and therefore ratepayers) – reimbursement for private vehicle use (the ‘Vehicle claim’ column). Click table to enlarge.
These payments to councillors reflect to some extent the sprawling shire geography and the location of the main shire office, in Besgrove St, Rosebud, where councillors attend most fortnightly meetings.
It also reflects individual councillor activity, although distance covered is a problematic indicator of this. Cr Bev Colomb, for example, had use of the mayoral vehicle from early November 2014 to 1 July 2015, which is reflected in her reimbursement claim of just $7001 for private vehicle use.
In contrast, the previous mayor, Cr Antonella Celi, had use of the mayoral vehicle from 30 June 2014 to early November 2014 but was reimbursed $24,006 for the 2014-2016 financial years, indicating a great deal of activity requiring substantial time behind the wheel of the family car.
The average distance driven by councillors over the two financial years was nearly 14,875 km, with Cr Graham Pittock lowest claimant at 4888 km and Cr Hugh Fraser closest to the average.
What could be broadly described as telecommunications – shire-provided telephones, computers and internet connections, paid for on shire-negotiated deals – averaged some $5230. Most councillors came in under that sum, with retired Watson ward councillor Lynn Bowden and Cr Fraser substantially above the average.
Claims for Conferences and Training varied from nil to $14,348. Cr Fraser’s and Cr Pittock’s expenditures each jumped by about $6000 because of the cost of their attendance at the Paris climate change event last December.
Miscellaneous claims, recorded in the ‘Other’ column, gave another example of former councillor Anne Shaw’s expenses thrift – the fourth “nil” in her total claim of just $13,056, slightly better than her Briars ward colleague, Andrew “Billy” Dixon. Bachelor Dixon claimed just $15,529, with nil for travel and conferences and training. And child care. Cr Shaw’s children are beyond the ‘Child care’ age.
The average total councillor spend of about $32,740 each (in a total of $360,149) was bettered by all three Briars ward councillors. Seawinds councillor Cr Celi was by far the highest claimant at close to $63,000 in the two-year period.
Her ward colleagues split the average: retired councillors David Gibb and Graham Pittock claimed $35,640 and $27,323 respectively.