Council to address car issues

LISMORE councillors yesterday said they were unhappy with the lack of information provided to them by staff about the council’s large vehicle fleet.

“There are significant issues that weren’t addressed at last night’s (Tuesday) workshop,” Cr Simon Clough said yesterday.

“I have just sent an email asking for the cost of the leases, which wasn’t provided.”

Cr Vanessa Ekins, who pushed for the workshop on the size and cost of the council vehicle fleet, was also unimpressed by the financial information provided and lack of options.

“Councillors were very disappointed by the lack of information presented to us and the attempt to say we can’t do anything about the situation,” she said.

The workshop was organised after Cr Ekins attempted to put a motion to council about the cost of the fleet.

As reported last week, she was asked to withdraw it by staff with the promise a workshop would be held to provide councillors with information.

During the workshop, finance manager Rino Santin disputed the figures in last week’s Northern Star report, saying that while 53 vehicles were provided to staff, only 40 were passenger vehicles.

He said the remainder were commercial vehicles and while they were taken home by staff, personal use was not permitted.

Mr Santin said staff paid the Fringe Benefits Tax portion of the commercial lease-back arrangement, depending on the size of the vehicle they chose.

Those living outside the local government area also pay a surcharge.

However, Cr Graham Meineke said the surcharge did not cover the extra petrol or wear and tear on the vehicle.

“If a person lives 25km outside the council area they pay an extra $4, but petrol alone would cost an extra $9,” he told the workshop.

Yesterday, Cr Meineke also expressed frustration about the lack of detailed information.

“I think the only way we are really going to get to the bottom of this is if we have a confidential session,” he said.

During the workshop, human resources manager Isabel Perdriau said it was common practice to offer vehicles to senior and some middle management staff to encourage them to take up positions with councils.

Additional fuel surcharge*

Under 25km – $4.03

25km-35km – $12

35km-45km – $20

45km-55km – $28

*Paid by staff who live outside Lismore Local Government Area

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