Monday, July 30, 2007

Adding Up the Expenses

Council continues to avoid publication of full costs

The Age today has reported on the Melbourne City Councils published expense statements for the previous financial quarter.

It needs to be noted that the published expenses do not represent a true and correct account of Council expenses still missing are expenses related to the Lord Mayor and deputy Lord Mayor's limousines, the cost of internal catering and inbound and outbound missions.

The City Council, in a policy that has the Council auditors cringing with amazement that only Auditors of Enron can agree, the City Council only published costs that have been "acquitted", i.e. it is not a disclosed cost until all the documents have been received and acquitted.

In all fairness the auditors did not sign off on this policy statement advocated by Linda Weatherson, former Governance Officer. The fact remains it is a cost to the council, acquitted or not once a debit has been made. The question remains why are these costs not being reports and to what extent. We hope to tabulate the latest costs and present a cost to date for the current council including a summary report of the Council's Travel Register which always shows up some inconsistencies in the Council's published expense statements, what ever the excuse the Council administration try to offer.

Notation: the City of Melbourne has removed the publication of the January 2005 to June 2006 Travel Register data. Why we can only guess that the Council administration will go to any length to avoid disclosure and accountability. The ravel register is a public document and should remain published and accessible on the Council's web site for the duration of at least two-terms of the City Council. With the accessibility of then Internet there is no need for this information to be removed from public view or right of open scrutiny. We have requested that the City of Melbourne republish the missing data.

Note: Missing from the above consolidated expenses is the local travel costs associated with the Lord Mayor and Deputy Lord Mayor estimated at around $250,000 per year. The lord Mayor and deputy Lord Mayor have the unlimited use of a Council Car, free petrol, free maintenance and free car-parking. Full costs hidden from public view. In addition costs related to internal catering, free booze are also not shown, although the City Council maintains an account of these expenses they will not readily disclose the full costs. WHY?

More detailed statistics available here

Council adds up cost of travel
Clay Lucas, The Age July 28, 2007

EXPENSE figures released yesterday by the cash-strapped Melbourne City Council, which in May sacked 26 staff to cut costs, show it spent $280,000 on interstate and international travel in the last financial year.

The council is expected to sack more staff next month as part of further cost-cutting.

Yesterday's figures also showed the council paid $10,379 in the last financial year on petrol and eTag charges for the low-profile councillor Carl Jetter to drive from his home in Ashwood to the Town Hall, even though he works full-time in his private business from an office next door.

Cr Jetter, the council's marketing chairman and part of Lord Mayor John So's Living Melbourne team, is sales director for Australia-China Connections, the journal of the Australian China Business Council.

He works daily selling ads in the magazine from his Collins Street office next door to Town Hall.

Cr Jetter, who in 2005 visited Tianjin, China, on a council-funded trip, also parks his car in a council-provided car park in Little Collins Street.

Yesterday he defended spending public money to get to his private workplace, saying he was legally entitled to claim local travel expenses when visiting the Town Hall for council-related work.

"I am just spending what I am entitled to," he said.

Councillor travel expenses released yesterday also included $12,000 for Cr So to represent Melbourne on trips to Milan, Thessaloniki and New York.

In total, the nine Melbourne City councillors spent $49,348 on interstate and international travel in the last financial year.

No comments:

Post a Comment