Councillors claim $46k, but all under budget

CITY of Ballarat mayor Joshua Morris racked up the largest councillor expenses bill in the second half of last year, spending $13,150 on travel, communications, functions and training.

The expenses of all nine councillors have been posted to the council’s website for the first time across four categories, and none exceeded their budgeted limits.

Former mayor John Burt, who vacated the top job in November, claimed just $1736 for the total period.

Councillor Des Hudson claimed the most on ‘travel’ ($2957), councillor Peter Innes on ‘communications’ ($1787) and councillor  Vicki Coltman on ‘functions and memberships’ ($3274), while Cr Morris had a ‘training and development’ bill of $10,026.

From June to December the group’s total expenditure was $46,130.

The council voted to post councillor expenses on its website last month, admitting a need for more transparency to the community in the wake of a number of Freedom of Information applications about expenses.

The information released to the public last week shows Cr Morris spent $3333 from June to September and $9817 in the October-December quarter.

The second highest expenses claim was from Cr Vicki Coltman, with a total bill of $8321.

She claimed $2306 on training and development in October-December and $3274 on functions and memberships over the seven-month period.

Cr Coltman stepped down from paid roles with Lead On Ballarat and Central Highlands Water to avoid a potential clash with her elected duties last year and now represents about 16 different committees and groups as a councillor.

Cr Morris also increased his civic workload significantly since taking leave from his teaching job to become Ballarat’s full-time mayor in November.

Deputy mayor Des Hudson claimed $4786, followed by councillors John Philips ($4528), Amy Johnson ($4493), Belinda Coates ($3719), Peter Innes ($3633) and Samantha McIntosh ($1763).

Even though he used only a fraction of it, Cr Burt was allowed up to $12,958.

Cr Morris had $13,542 to play with and squeezed in under budget with $390 to spare.

The other councillors came in well under their $11,500 allocated budgets.

rachel.afflick@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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