An article in the Daily Telegraph on councils ‘living it up’ does not apply to Byron Shire Council, the council’s general manager, Graeme Faulkner, said.

He said the Byron Shire’s councillors are a hard-working group of individuals dedicated to the community.

“They are paid less than $15,000 each per year, with an additional Mayoral allowance of $33,000,” he said.

The Daily Telegraph news article reported a figure of up to $47,000 spent on ‘sustenance’ within Byron Shire for the period 2008-09.

Mr Faulkner said this figure included approximately $13,000 on catering for council meetings and $32,500 attending conferences, seminars and the associated costs for travel and accommodation.

“There were no overseas trips and $32,500 is a frugal amount for nine councillors over a 12-month period,” he said.

“We are a regional shire and naturally there are costs associated to attend events that are pertinent to the interests of the shire.”

He said if a councillor wished to attend a conference, it must be identified within the approved yearly council budget or approved at a council meeting.

Councillors have the opportunity to debate the nomination of attendees including who attends and the number of delegates.

Other councillor expenses reported in the $78,682 include the provision of office equipment to the newly elected councillors in 2008 ($10,424), telephone calls ($13,977), Mayor’s vehicle expenses ($7905) and training ($660).

Byron Shire councillors during the 2008/09 period attended 39 council meetings which included Ordinary Meetings, Strategic Planning Meetings, Reserve Trust, Quarterly Reviews and Extra Ordinary Meetings. Councillors were also extensively involved with numerous Council Project Reference Groups, Section 355 Committees and regional committees.

  • Councillors’ Remuneration 2008/09
  • Mayoral Allowance 33,010
  • Councillors – Attendance Fees 134,598
  • Mayor Vehicle Expenses 7905
  • Provision of dedicated office equipment to councillors 10,242
  • Telephone Calls made by councillors 13,977
  • Catering 12,909
  • Attendance of councillors at conferences and seminars 17,383
  • Training of councillors and Provision of Skill Development 660
  • Interstate visits by councillors, including transport, accommodation and other out-of-pocket travelling expenses 15,206.
  • Expenses involved in the provision of care for a child or an immediate family member of a councillor 400

Councillor expenses were paid in accordance with the council’s adopted Policy 1.1 – Mayor and Councillors’ Payment of Expenses and Provision of Facilities. The total paid, as reported in the Annual Report, was $246,290.