The City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh accumulated $20,972 in travel expenses the past financial year, more than double her counterparts in Bendigo and Geelong.
The City of Greater Geelong mayor Bruce Harwood registered $7,243 travel costs over the same time, while the City of Greater Bendigo mayor Margaret O'Rourke accumulated $8,870.
Cr McIntosh's travel expenses increased by a quarter from $16,836 in 2017/18. The majority of the costs this financial year were accrued last September with expenses of $12,109 for Cr McIntosh's travel to France, England and Turkey.
The journey included discussion of France's 2021 Year of Australia celebrations and Ballarat's possible involvement; and a potential gallery partnership with the Musee de la Chartreuse de Douai. In England, Cr McIntosh and a council officer visited the Unesco listed mining region of Cornwall.
There's a hell of a lot a return we have as a result of that travel. We have fast-tracked the Unesco world heritage serial listing significantly in the last 18 months.City of Ballarat mayor Samantha McIntosh
In Turkey, the mayor attended the World League of Historical Cities as part of the Victorian Goldfields bid for World Heritage status. The trip included site visits to three waste-to-energy plants.
That year, Cr McIntosh also travelled to China for the Regional Organisation of World Heritage Cities conference, with most of the costs covered by the hosts.
In June this year, Cr McIntosh travelled to Krakow in Poland for the World Heritage Cities congress, along with a council officer.
Speaking to The Courier, Cr McIntosh said it was important to take the impact of the travel into account.
"There's a hell of a lot a return we have as a result of that [travel]," she said, adding that world heritage listing would bring up to $68 million in economic benefits to the region.
"We have fast-tracked the Unesco world heritage serial listing significantly in the last 18 months. It's been sitting on the agendas of 13 municipalities for three decades, and we have managed to pull that in to a more active space."
This year's annual report shows Cr McIntosh's expenses totalled $32,967, up from $24,458 the previous year. The most recent figure includes $4,222.92 spent on IT, communications and technology, with a number of councillors' devices replaced in 2018/19.
In comparison, Geelong's Cr Harwood's overall expenses stood at $26,282, while Cr O'Rourke's added up to $11,828.
Back in Ballarat, the next highest expenses were for Cr Amy Johnson, who had $2,264 for travel costs as well as $5,544 spent on conferences and training.
Five City of Ballarat councillors - Jim Rinaldi, Daniel Moloney, Mark Harris, Des Hudson and Grant Tillett - registered no travel expenses although Cr Rinaldi claimed $1,745.70 for car mileage.
Overall Cr Harris had the lowest expenses, with $808.07 for information and communications the only cost alongside his councillor allowance.
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