Perks cut backdown

AFTER six months of delays a modest cut to Vincent councillors’ generous allowances has been proposed by staff.

Last October staff recommended slashing the phone, computer and communications allowance from $3500 to $1500, and if councillors exceeded that figure they could put in a claim.

The move would’ve saved the council $18,000 a year. But councillors deferred it to review the figures (in the meantime they got paid the higher rate) and staff have now now recommended reducing it by only a grand.

“It’s been nearly six months since this was first mooted and all that has really changed in the last six months is that the size of the allowance is increased from $1500 to $2500,” former councillor Dudley Maier told councillors at a briefing this week.

Flaw

“We have an independent body, the Salaries and Allowance Tribunal, saying that an allowance should not be a mechanism for council members to increase their income, and that the best practice is to simply reimburse genuine costs.

“One flaw with having a high allowance is that council members get to pocket the unspent amount of the allowance.

“So why not have a clause that says the unspent amount is to be repaid at the end of the year?”

He added that, “council members are required to work out that information for tax purposes”, so there’s no extra paperwork.

One argument for giving the councillors cash in hand rather than making them file reimbursements is that it means less paperwork for staff since they won’t have to process receipts.

Mr Maier said 20 per cent of metro councils already do the reimbursement method and it’s likely to work out to only two transactions a week.

Councillors will vote on whether to cut their own allowances at the next full council meeting.

by DAVID BELL

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