Councillors’ spending under fire

THE expenses of two South Gippsland Shire councillors have come under question, with concerns ratepayers are being asked to wear the costs of their electioneering.

Councillors Andrew McEwen and Don Hill incurred travel reimbursements far above those of their colleagues from July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016.

Cr McEwen claimed travel reimbursements of $9021 and Cr Hill claimed $8340, for using their own cars for council business.

Cr Lorraine Brunt told council recently, “You can note a range in what it cost for individual councillors.

“I think we have had a few electioneering expenses in delivering newsletters and that is ratepayers’ money.”

Cr Hill has previously being criticised by his fellow councillors for using a council photocopier for printing the first edition of his so-called ward newsletter.

His printing and meeting sound recording transcripts expenses for the financial year were $1556, while Cr McEwen’s were $834.

Cr Hill said Cr Brunt’s accusations that he ran up his expenses bill by distributing my newsletters were “quite untrue and just another spurious attack on my reputation”.

“My second newsletter was printed in July and distributed through Australia post. All costs were paid for by me personally and have not been claimed or will be claimed against council,” Cr Hill said.

Mayor Cr Bob Newton and Cr Kieran Kennedy claimed $48 each, and Cr Brunt $5. No other councillors claimed this expense.

Other councillors use council cars and claimed travel expenses of: Nigel Hutchinson-Brooks, $5204; Cr Mohya Davies, $4918; Cr Kennedy, $4910; Cr Brunt, $4599; Cr Jeanette Harding, $4484; and Cr Newton, $4296.

No travel expenses were shown for Cr Jim Fawcett because as a personal choice, he does not claim private car use for council business, believing his councillor allowance covers that expense.

“Not claiming reimbursement is a small way of repaying the community for the faith they had in electing me to council,” he said.

“All councillors are entitled to claim a council car or reimbursement for their private car. My action should not be seen as judging others but just my personal choice.”

Cr McEwen did not respond to The Star’s request for comment.

Short URL: http://thestar.com.au/?p=19539

Posted by on Sep 6 2016. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

1 Comment for “Councillors’ spending under fire”

  1. I applaud Cr. Jim Fawcett on his work-related ethics, which are reminiscent of past Councils.

    I can remember the good old days when councillors, including the mayor, were paid a nominal sum for their respective roles, roles they undertook to improve their suburbs rather than using them as a stepping stone to the State and/or Federal troughs of taxpayer monies. Councils operated for the good of the community they served and terms such as “electioneering”, “overspending” and “slush funds” were unheard of; in fact, such terms would have been seen as a blight against their reputations.

    Today it would appear that it’s all about personal vainglory that gives rise to exorbitant salaries and equally obscene “entitlements” and “personal expenses” that are over and above their salaries and allocation of annual funds. I feel that ratepayers are being used as nothing more than the golden goose that provides a lavish lifestyle and a mistaken sense of self importance to a few, paid for by the many who have no choice but to pay the ever increasing annual rates while getting very little back. “Private use of council cars” and “travel expenses” are self explanatory and, to me at least, demonstrate the apparent contempt in which we, the ratepayers, are held.

    How can we be progressive in the 21century by still using the old feudal system of governance with its dated three tiers: local, state and federal, with each tier squandering mega millions on the same junket trail?

    I believe that in the 21century we have two options: 1) get rid of local councils altogether and make State governments more answerable to the people. 2) get rid of the State government and combine more local Councils to form fewer Super Councils. Do we really need a council on virtually every street corner?

    Council rates seem to have become like private health insurance, insomuch as there is the compulsory annual increase but with seemingly ever-decreasing benefits. We must tighten the money belt for all “overseas trips/junkets” and other “expenses” with little to no extra benefit to us, the ratepayers, who are, after all, the employers.

    I know of no other business or organisation that allows the employee to set their own wage structure, and benefits without consultation with the employer, or even ignoring the employers’ input.

    Rita Raspa

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