I was interested to read in the council meeting agenda that the councilors will need to approve a new payment and expenses program; this is not new however there appears to be some omissions. While I’ve suggested at times that some of our councilors would be severely hampered if a participation clause was added in lieu of payments there are a couple who genuinely deserve more in the way of remuneration. Reading it closely as I do, I noticed that a couple of things have changed, one is that they finally have included the aesthetic maintenance of the mayors vehicle, a topic hotly debated at last years review and that the clause for telephone calls no longer exists… in previous documents the Councillor’s have been able to access (from memory) up to $35 of their home phones and up to $75 per month for use of their mobile phones for calls made in the role of councillor… this seems to have changed, no specific amount is indicated, there is a facility where councilors can access up to $500 per month for correspondence per month for communicating with constituents however I could no see (other than use of the telephone in the councilors rooms) any remuneration for calls made from home or from their mobiles…As you would be well aware, I watch closely at the expenses accessed by our councilors but in that they are paid a moderate stipendiary for their council obligations this may just be a step to far. There is a chance that I’ve missed this however I did read it twice and feel if this is the case we might not attract quality candidates as councilors if we require them to pay all their calls etc unless calls are made from the councilors office… also missing and perhaps inline with the newness of the facility there was no mention of councilors being able to park for free in the council’s new building. This may be that it wasn’t considered, however the mayor has this facility noted as available to her, and as the building presently leases out the car park there would appear unreasonable that councilors in the undertaking of their duties would be obliged to pay what can be excessive fees for parking in the building.
Also of interest is the new proposed policy to councilors in their addressing the media, as it should be the Mayor will be the official spokesperson for council matters, whether or not this is your choice, the mayor is elected by the majority of the community, I cannot think of instances in the past where anyone but the mayor was sought for opinion and that if councilors are speaking they will need to indicate that it is their personal opinion not that of the council. With a council such as ours, there are often conflicting opinions and this has often been borne out in their comments through the media. Perhaps I’m old fashioned but I’ve always believed in the united we stand divided we fall analogy and council should be seen (even if only in the media) as a united group. All this assuming it is supported by councilors this evening.
Tonight will as always be an interesting meeting, lots of questions from councillors, some that have been asked previously and answered but hey, hope to see you there, come up and say Hi… more tomorrow if there are any major changes etc