Mayor Richie Williamson said council is not required to disclose councillors' expenses.
Mayor Richie Williamson said council is not required to disclose councillors' expenses. Adam Hourigan

Expenses under wraps

LAST year Clarence Valley councillors claimed more than $80,000 in expenses but the public will never be told what the money was spent on and by whom it was spent.

The policy guiding what expenses councillors can claim is on exhibition for public comment. But there is no list detailing the bills they rack up and expect the ratepayer to foot.

Instead, general details about the councillors' expenses are printed in CVC's Statutory Annual Report.

The benefits include $147 a month in phone expenses for Mayor Richie Williamson and $68 a month for councillors.

Councillors are entitled to install ADSL broadband at home and also claim $40 a month to stay connected.

They can also make ratepayers pay for a computer and a printer.

But some of the larger expenses come when councillors travel.

When they go away to attend conferences they are entitled to claim up to $272 a night on hotel rooms.

And while they're away they can spend $135 a day on food.

The breakdown of this includes an allowance of $34 a day for breakfast, $45 for lunch and $56 for dinner.

In Clarence Valley Council's Annual Report staff noted: "In 2011/2012, the total cost of the payment of expenses...to Councillors in relation to their civic duties was $80,292."

But who did the spending, for what and exactly how much, remains a mystery.

Instead the report simply said councillors spent $9754 on phone calls, faxes and internet. Just under $20,000 was spent on tickets to conferences.

And another $19,693 was spent on interstate flights.

 

Mayor Richie Williamson said the council was not required by the NSW Department of Local Government to itemise councillors' expenses.

Should these expenses be open to public scrutiny? Tell us what you think by emailing newsroom@dailyexaminer.com.au.



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