Leaked documents reveal surprising salaries at Rattler
LEAKED documents have revealed a proposed shake-up of the Mary Valley Rattler's staff would slash hundreds of thousands of dollars from its wage bill - but questions about its viability remain with almost a third of paid staff expected to earn more than most councillors.
Under a proposal presented to Gympie Regional Council last week, staff would be reduced to 17 positions once the full service resumes.
The new structure would include five salaried positions earning $74,000 or more (before superannuation).
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Two of these pay packets would sit within the $85,000-$100,000 range.
All are above the annual wage drawn (before super) by all councillors except the mayor and deputy mayor.
It would slash the Rattler's annual wage bill below $1 million.
Employee benefits cost the train $1.4 million in 2018-19. This included $1.2 million in wages and salaries.
The Rattler's financial viability has been under scrutiny amid revelations the council's financial situation is troubled; the council is expected today to seek approval to borrow $10 million from the Queensland Treasury to cover operational costs in 2020-21.
In an interview on ABC two weeks ago, Rattler vice chairman Garry Davison said some changes were in the works to "allow us to operate far more effectively than we have in the past".
He refused to be drawn on whether this meant staff cuts.
Mr Davison yesterday declined to talk about the specifics of the Rattler's wage bill, saying they were commercially confidential.
"We're operating as a business; I'm not going to say what those (pay) levels are," Mr Davison said.
He was confident in the venture's success as the region's number one tourist destination.
He said the business plan was put "out there many, many times".
"We have achieved more (visitor) numbers than we anticipated," he said. "Without COVID our budget sheet would have looked quite good."
Mr Davison said independent reports showed the heritage train brought $10 million into the community, the bulk of which came from outside visitors.
"It ($10 million) is a significant amount," he said.
The Rattler, and its cost, has been a lightning rod of controversy since the council announced it would steam forward with its resurrection.
A 2016 business case for the train said the revitalisation would cost $10.8 million, and would lose $261,000 in its first two years before turning a profit in year three.
The project ultimately cost $17.5 million to get running and recorded a loss of almost $850,000 from 2017-2019.
More than $800,000 of ratepayer money is injected into the venture every year.
Past questions to the council about the cost of the Rattler's top jobs, including general manager, were declined on grounds of confidentiality.