Councillor Bruce Devereaux will be using his own car as the subject of councillors’ perks comes to the forefront following the election and the pandemic. Picture: Shane Zahner
Councillor Bruce Devereaux will be using his own car as the subject of councillors’ perks comes to the forefront following the election and the pandemic. Picture: Shane Zahner

Council’s car perks under the microscope

WHEN it comes to Gympie Regional Council and car perks, people want the foot put down.

The question of automotive perks for councillors and staff was front and centre at last week’s workshop.

The existing policy has an $8000 allowance each year to cover councillors’ costs including fuel, tyres and maintenance of their own cars.

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They have access to the council’s fleet, too.

The majority of online readers called for the councillors to use their own cars and, as Jane Potter put it, “claim mileage on their tax like the rest of us”.

Mayor Glen Hartwig used his own car for the past four years, and says he racked up more than 30,000km in 2019.
Mayor Glen Hartwig used his own car for the past four years, and says he racked up more than 30,000km in 2019.

A few said it was a more complex problem, though,

“Elected Councillors attending meetings with constituents and investigating issues raised by constituents is considered, in my eyes, as work and work related,” Joan Gear Auer said.

“I do not have an issue of any councillor having a council vehicle for these purposes.

“What I do have a massive objection to is council workers, be they managers, directors or employees having work vehicles as part of their package.”

It was a position shared by most – and one Mayor Glen Hartwig said would be getting a closer look.

“The feeling I‘ve had discussions in briefings is that is a whole of council view,” Mr Hartwig said.

Mr Hartwig said there was a feeling within the council that staff car packages needed to be drawn back into line with community and private company expectations.
Mr Hartwig said there was a feeling within the council that staff car packages needed to be drawn back into line with community and private company expectations.

“We will be getting further information from our staff to bring our council supplied vehicle policy in line with what would be expected a) in the community and b) in the private world as well.”

The question of reimbursement for councillors was a different beast.

“I have used my own vehicle for the past four years, and in the last 12 months I did 30,000-35,000km for council related activities,” Mr Hartwig said.

“That’s a lot for anyone to drive and fund out of their own pocket completely.”

He preferred councillors to use their own cars but “having councillors fund 20,000-30,000km of related driving is probably a little bit too much to ask.

“I would have been far better of with a council vehicle.”