Council IT allowance cut

VINCENT councillors have voted to slash their IT allowance by $1000, but former councillor Dudley Maier says the $2,500 they will now get is still too high.

Councillors are given the yearly allowance upfront to cover phones, computers and data bills.

They have the option to return cash that they don’t spend, but when Mr Maier inquired in September, nobody had done that.

“I just don’t think it fits their rhetoric of being open and accountable,” he says.

“If they’re open and accountable, at the end of the year publish what you spend and pay back what you haven’t.”

Vincent mayor Emma Cole said the maximum allowance of $3500 is set by the independent Salaries and Allowances Tribunal.

Mr Maier says the upper limit was probably intended for councillors living in rural locations like Wiluna, where they have to use expensive satellite data plans.

He noted the SAT’s preferred method was for councillors to hand in receipts and get reimbursed item-by-item, but Cr Josh Topelberg said they used to do that and it was an “outrageous” system that took up too much time.

Vincent staff checked with 23 other metro councils and found 13 gave their councillors the maximum $3500, five used receipt reimbursement, and five gave less than the maximum amount (the tiny municipality of East Freo being most frugal, giving councillors $1000 a year).

Councillor Dan Loden used the allowances review to propose that councillors get a gift up to $100 when they retire, but only Cr Jimmy Murphy supported the idea.

In speaking against the retirement gift plan, Cr Topelberg said “every cent in this building comes from the public purse” so they had to be thrifty.

Ms Cole said she’d personally chip in to buy Cr Loden a retirement gift when he left council.

by DAVID BELL

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