Allowance rise causes anger

Allowance rise causes anger

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The Serpentine Jarrahdale Ratepayers and Residents Association said they were disappointed council members voted for an increase in allowances.

Serpentine Jarrahdale Ratepayers and Residents Association president Margaret Cala said the vote, on May 22, was passed despite a persuasive argument for restraint from councillors Michelle Rich and Dave Atwell.

“The vote was for a leap of 100 per cent of the new allowance,” she said.

“This translates to an increase of around double for the shire president and almost double for his deputy, plus substantial rises for other members of council.”

Ms Cala said before the vote councillors Rich and Atwell offered their increase to be put back into revenue as they felt there were many worthy projects as yet unfunded.

“The State Government recently announced a freeze on salaries and allowances for the next four years,” she said.

“What makes the Serpentine Jarrahdale Council different?”

Ms Cala said she appreciated the time and effort councillors put into their roles and realised the current growth within the shire presented a greater responsibility but the current economic climate was not an appropriate time for an increase in allowance.

“At best this may be seen as insensitive,” she said.

“We feel it is a slap in the face for many members of the community who are struggling financially with little chance for an increase in income.”

Shire president John Erren said the council has an existing policy, which states that annual meeting fees and allowances are set at the maximum levels set out in the relevant band for the shire as determined by the salaries and allowances tribunals determination for the local government elected council members.

“The shire has been reclassified from a band three to a band two local government with the determination coming into effect on July 1,” he said.

“The reclassification reflects the significant population growth, major developments, environmental issues and social and economic issues that the shire is currently facing.”

Mr Erren said the rapidly changing environment required strong strategic direction by elected members and an increase in advocacy at the state and federal level.

“There are also significant time demands on elected members and this has increased in the last six months with strategic planning workshops, the SJ Real Choices open the books community workshops, the presidents forum and other community based consultation and meetings,” he said.

“It is viewed that annual meeting attendance fees and allowances will never provide full reimbursement for the time involved in making a civic contribution as an elected member but the higher fees and allowances may remove the disincentive for other community minded people to consider nominating for council.”