BY SORAYA PEREZ MOHAMMED
An analysis of the Councillors’ Expenses and Facilities Policy was carried out at the recent City of Sydney Council meeting after it was exposed that Lord Mayor Clover Moore and councillors were requesting up to 30 times more on expenses than their Western Sydney counterparts.
The Councillors’ Expenses and Facilities Policy is a regulation to provide Councillors with “essential resources and facilities” needed to perform the role and duties.
The revised policy would require expenses to be reported in a manner that is transparent and accountable to the local community. It would also allow for closer scrutiny of the assessment and approvals processes in place before any funds were given out.
But perhaps the most important point was to improve explanations about additional expenses and facilities for the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor Kerryn Phelps.
However, some councillors denied there had been any substantial increases to expenses in the policy. Councillor Linda Scott said the new policy was going overboard.
“I think this policy is inappropriate and very offensive. I don’t support it.” she said.
Ms Scott also pointed out the new regulations are excessive because there has been no money wasted or budget excesses that are not justified.
“We were not demanding up to 30 times more on expenses than western Sydney, that’s absolutely false. In my opinion these changes are unsuitable and obviously I do disagree,” she said.
The new policy requires regular monitoring and reporting on capped expenditure, to identify whether any Councillor has exceeded their annual expense limit in. Councillors who exceed their annual expense limit will be invoiced and must reimburse the City in accordance with clause 41.2 of the Policy.
The new policy also includes a formal dispute resolution process and makes a clear distinction between expenses and facilities. The debate on this issue has been divided, with some councillors arguing there have been excessive expenditures and notable irregularities in the increase of expenses. They have asked that the new changes be incorporated immediately and the policy to be on public exhibition for 28 days.