Shire’s councillors are costly


MORNINGTON Peninsula Shire councillors collectively spent about $480,000 on expenses over three years during part of the previous 2012-2016 council term.

The figures, marked “confidential” in documents seen by The News, show the shire’s councillors are bigger spenders than their colleagues in either Frankston or Kingston.

The documents, given to all councillors in March, show parking/travel as the largest expense for 11 councillors, at about $244,400.

Another $27,000 was separately spent on council alcohol supplies in the previous four-year council term.

Councillors in August voted to stop filling up council liquor cabinets at ratepayers’ expense.

The March figures were compiled by council officers the month after councillors debated how best to repay alleged exorbitant spending on conferences and seminars.

The expenses exclude councillors’ $28,000 annual remuneration or $85,000 for the mayor over a 12-month mayoral term and superannuation calculated at 9.5 per cent of remuneration.

The shire’s 11 councillors collectively spent $135,357 — about $100,000 more of ratepayers’ money on expenses compared to neighbouring Frankston and Kingston councils — over a 12-month period in the 2015-16 financial year (“Councillor expenses unknown”, The News 18/10/16).

In 2014-15 the shire’s 11 councillors also spent about $150,000 more than the 18 Frankston and Kingston councillors combined.

Some of the extra costs can be attributed to shire councillors having to travel greater distances across the municipality than at Frankston and Kingston, but a breakdown of shire expenses shows spending in other categories also exceed that of neighbouring councils.

Shire media communications manager Mark Kestigian has been repeatedly asked to provide councillor expenses figures by The News since July.

Just before last month’s 22 October council elections council governance manager Joe Spiteri decided the figures could not be provided since election caretaker provisions were in force from 20 September until 22 October.

Last week The News again asked for full councillor expenses figures and was given details of conferences and seminars totals for each councillor during the previous council term.

The figures provided to councillors in March (four months before the first request from The News) show ADSL internet services provided to councillors are a major expense for ratepayers.

Councillors are provided with a wi-fi “dongle” to access the internet and online documents stored on council sites only accessible by council staff and councillors.

The ADSL costs, coupled with home phone line expenses, came to about $40,400 over three years.

Councillors’ mobile phones are a separate expense at $19,500 for all 11 councillors. Their expenses for a fax machine/printer came in just under $20,000.

Conferences and seminars cost ratepayers just under $109,000 from November 2012 until February 2016.

Meals, drinks, parking and travel expenses were often allocated as sundry expenses instead of being assigned to specific categories.

In August councillors in the previous council adopted a new expenses policy that gives councillors the right to each spend up to $30,000 over four years on such things as conferences and seminars ($16,000), education and training ($10,000) and entertainment ($4000).

First published in the Mornington News – 15 November 2016


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