Councillor angry at being asked to repay travel costs
A Mackenzie District councillor is threatening to resign "on principle", after being asked to pay back travel costs.
The Remuneration Authority did not allow councillors to claim for the first 30 kilometres, effectively 15km to and from the council chambers in Fairlie, but the first 5000km in any one year would be paid at 74 cents a kilometre, reducing to 35 cents subsequently.
Due to a clerical error, councillor John Bishop has to pay back about $113 after being over-compensated for his travel. Fellow Twizel-based district councillor Annette Money owes about $500 in overpaid travel allowances.
At yesterday's council meeting Cr Bishop said he would resign if he was forced to pay it back.
"It's not the amount, but the principle of this thing," he said.
"If people want me to represent them, then they should acknowledge all the sacrifices I have to make in travelling all those long distances for meetings."
Crs Bishop and Murray have to travel 200km for each council meeting in Fairlie. Cr Bishop said it did not seem fair, considering he had to attend extra meetings due to the council being late in getting its long-term plan audited.
"That would have cost the council thousands of dollars in audit fees, I don't see why I have to pay a travel allowance for that mistake," he said.
The councillors' annual salary is about $16,000.
Cr Graeme Page, who lives near the council chambers in Fairlie, asked if he could "transfer" his unclaimed kilometres to Crs Bishop and Murray, but chief executive Glen Innes said this was not possible.
Deputy Mayor Graham Smith said the Twizel-based councillors needed to be smarter about their travel and car-pool more often.
Mayor Claire Barlow said she would try to resolve the matter in a way that would suit everyone.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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