KEVIN Skinner wants to draw a line under mounting expenses claims by his councillor colleagues.
KEVIN Skinner wants to draw a line under mounting expenses claims by his councillor colleagues.

Travel costs slammed

SOME expenses being claimed by Tweed Shire councillors on trips away for seminars have been slammed as “exorbitant” by Cr Kevin Skinner.

Cr Skinner wants his colleagues to tone down their expenses claims, limit the number of councillors who attend conferences and provide a report back to the councillors who don’t go.

Cr Skinner slammed the costs during last week’s council meeting when councillors adjusted their policy on claiming expenses to ensure none of them can obtain a private benefit from any “frequent flyer” points and banned the claiming of expenses for attending any political fund-raising function.

Yesterday he said he simply believed too many councillors were attending too many conferences and seminars.

“I just don’t think it’s necessary for all the councillors to be going off to these things all the time,” Cr Skinner said.

“For one councillor to go to each one is fine.

“Otherwise they just add up and are just another expense.

“I’ve been to one, but other councillors have been to six or seven.

“There are some councillors that go to different things and they pay a fair bit of their own cost, but there seems to be a desire to go off and go to these things.”

Cr Skinner said he had also been unhappy with the reports about conferences that were made by councillors on their return.

“I wrote a report, but in the entire time since we’ve only had a couple of verbal reports.

“Hopefully the councillors will get the message to do reports. We’ve got to get better bang for you buck – that’s what I want.”

The council’s corporate services director Troy Green said the total amount of councillor expenses, excluding their normal remuneration, came to $86,295 last financial year.

The amendments to the councillors’ expenses policy adopted last week will not be put out to the public for their comment because councillors considered the changes “not substantial”.

But any member of thepublic trying to find out exactly what expenses councillors are entitled to, would find the policy leaves many questions unanswered.

Meal allowances are to be paid “in accordance with Australian Taxation Office allowance guidelines” and air travel costs are to be “economy class or as determined by the general manager”.

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