South Burnett Regional Council staff. Photo: Laura Blackmore
South Burnett Regional Council staff. Photo: Laura Blackmore

REVEALED: Councillors’ expenses and reimbursements

SOUTH Burnett Regional Council Mayor Brett Otto has moved to set the record straight after recent speculation on councillors' remuneration and expenses reimbursement.

This follows the adoption of Council's Expenses Reimbursement Policy at the April general meeting.

"Following a recent report and subsequent comments regarding councillors' pay rises and reimbursement of expenses, I would like to provide some additional information to inform the community on the resolution made by Council regarding Council's Expenses Reimbursement Policy for Councillors," Cr Otto said.

"Council, at the May general meeting has adopted an Expenses Reimbursement Policy for councillors in accordance with the Local Government Regulation 2012.

"The policy ensures compliance with statutory requirements and community expectations relating to the payment or reimbursement of legitimate expenses and the provision of facilities. "It also ensures councillors have the facilities and support necessary to perform their civic duties as elected representatives of their local communities."

Cr Otto said even though councillors might be eligible to claim certain expenses, this did not necessarily mean that these expenses were being claimed.

"Councillors often pay for their own meals when travelling out of the region on Council business and do not bother claiming such," he said.

"On occasions when claims are submitted, they are only paid upon the production of receipts which are often for less than the allowable limit.

"The vehicle use reimbursement amounts represent a conservative approach.

"Had councillors chosen to be reimbursed on a cents per kilometre basis, using the standard rate provided by the ATO, the cost to council would be far greater when one considers the large number of kilometres travelled by rural councillors across our region in the ordinary course of conducting council business.

"Furthermore, the previously provided Mayor's vehicle has now been returned to the fleet, saving council the cost of replacing one of the older vehicles, with the Mayor using his own car and paying all of his council travel costs inside the region out of his own pocket."

Cr Otto urged all interested residents to read Council's Expenses Reimbursement Policy for Councillors.

He said this provided a full list of expenses for which councillors could be reimbursed, in conjunction with the Annual Report, which reflected actual reimbursements claimed by councillors.

Council's policies can be viewed here

Council's Annual Reports can be viewed here

The following table provides a history of reimbursements as previously provided by Council:

The table provides a history of reimbursements as previously provided by Council part one. Photo: SB Council
The table provides a history of reimbursements as previously provided by Council part one. Photo: SB Council

 

The table provides a history of reimbursements as previously provided by Council, part two. Photo: SB Council
The table provides a history of reimbursements as previously provided by Council, part two. Photo: SB Council

Remuneration levels for councillors are set by an independent state government convened tribunal: the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal. Each year the Tribunal undertakes a review of the remuneration levels and publishes a report with their recommendations.

"Since 2008, Queensland's Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal (the tribunal) has determined the salaries paid to elected Local Government representatives, based on a percentage of the salaries paid to elected State Government representatives," Cr Otto said.

"There are nine categories of Councils in Queensland. South Burnett Regional Council is in Category three, along with Gympie, Southern Downs, Western Downs, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and others.

"Up until 2012, the tribunal set a minimum and maximum salary range for each category and councils in that category could opt for a salary within that range.

"However from 2012, the tribunal discontinued this practice and instead established a single remuneration level. The salaries of mayors, deputy mayors and councillors are now the same across all category three councils."

When the remuneration schedule is published each year, councillors are automatically paid the recommended salary levels within 90 days, unless Council decides by resolution to pay a lesser amount, with any decision to be recorded as such in Council's Budget.

Information on the Local Government Remuneration Commission Annual Report 2019 can be found here

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