THE three state government-appointed commissioners running Perth city council will decide on Tuesday if suspended councillors keep getting paid, but regardless of their decision lord mayor Lisa Scaffidi will continue to receive most of her wages.
Perth councillors get an allowance every quarter, totalling just over $30,000 a year, and they’re still getting this while suspended.
But the commission has the option to pay them a per-meeting attendance fee instead, which critics say would disadvantage grass-roots councillors who are not backed by the corporate end of town.
The lord mayor would miss out on $47,000 in attendance fees, but she would still get her yearly allowance of about $136,000.
Council CEO Martin Mileham’s report to the commissioners states: “The purposes of elected member attendance fees and allowances is to remunerate individuals for the performance of their role. Given the suspension of elected members they are incapable of fulfilling their role as a representative of council.”
The report points out that past inquiries have taken up to two years.
While suspended councillors still have to abide by legal responsibilities found in the local government act and other City of Perth policies, including one that forbids them from criticising council decisions.
Anna Vanderbom is president of the City of Perth Western Residents Association, representing the Nedlands/Subiaco area that got swallowed by Perth during local government mergers.
She does not want councillors stripped of their pay. When the suspension was announced she told the Voice that if councillors weren’t paid, then come election time the wealthier ones—who she believes represent the big end of town—could easily afford to run again.
The councillors who generally represent the residents would have less of a war chest and could be deterred from renominating, she argued.
The commissioners–Eric Lumsden (retiring chair of the WA Planning Commission), Gaye McMath (executive director of Perth Education City) and Andrew Hammond (former City of Rockingham CEO)–will rule on councillors pay at the next council meeting on April 24.
Councillors Steve Hasluck and Lily Chen both said in March they did not want to be paid while suspended, saying that if they are still given an allowance they’ll donate it to charity.
by DAVID BELL