South Burnett Regional Council Kirstie Schumacher, Kathy Duff, Danita Potter, Roz Frohloff, Mayor Brett Otto, Scott Henschen and Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones. File Photo.
South Burnett Regional Council Kirstie Schumacher, Kathy Duff, Danita Potter, Roz Frohloff, Mayor Brett Otto, Scott Henschen and Deputy Mayor Gavin Jones. File Photo.

Councillors vote to slash their own allowances after backlash

SOUTH Burnett Regional Council Mayor Brett Otto has moved to slash the councillors excessive meal and travel allowances.

The resolution to reduce the price cap for breakfast down to $17.50 from $35, lunch from $50 to $25, and dinner from $100 to $50, was passed unanimously.

Upon addressing the previous increase, Mayor Brett Otto reminded the community that ‘councillors have not given themselves a pay rise’, but that they often incur meal expenses while conducting business that they rarely submit claims for.

READ MORE: South Burnett councillors’ extravagant dinner allowance

“I am keen to see this happen. I know when this was first put through there was a lot of pushback from the community,” Cr Kathy Duff said.

“Because we were getting high levels of allowance, it made it seem like the councillors were actually claiming these amounts.

“It made it seem like we were getting way more than we should, when in actuality, we weren’t claiming at all.”

Cr Kirstie Schumacher reiterated this statement, adding “just because it’s in the policy. It doesn’t mean that councillors will claim it.”

“Any meal or coffee that I consume as part of conducting my daily duties and meeting with people in the region is at my own expense,” Cr Schumacher said.

“I was very disappointed by the cheap comments made in our community about councillors having their noses in the trough.

“This job is more to me than money.”

READ MORE: Mayor stands by water price hike after community backlash

The special meeting held today, also examined the motion which increased weekly fuel subsidies by 23 per cent.

During a meeting in April, councillors voted to increase the fuel allowance for Division 5 and 6 councillors from $200 per week up to $250. Division 1 and 2 councillors were to receive a fuel subsidy of $180 a week, as opposed to the previous $140, and Division 3 and 4 saw an increase from $80 and $90 respectively, to $100 weekly each.

The resolution put forth by Mayor Brett Otto states that ‘the most cost effective form of travel must be used’.

READ MORE: REVEALED: Councillors’ expenses and reimbursements

Councillors may use their own private vehicle for business purposes and claim a kilometric allowance, so long as a detailed travel logbook is kept.

The amount to be reimbursed will hereby be based on the ‘ATO cents per kilometre rate for car travel’ as outlined on the ATO website.

This resolution was passed unanimously.