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Well travelled

Saturday, 2nd November, 2013

By By Erica Visser

Council spends $200,000 on travel

City Council’s travel expenses cost ratepayers $200,000 in the last financial year.

Accommodation, out of pocket expenses and flights for employees and councillors made up the sum, which applied to any travel outside of the city.

Council reimburses accommodation, registration and travel expenses for any representative attending a conference outside of Broken Hill.

Mayor Wincen Cuy insisted that the figure was not a result of extravagant junkets.

“I can assure you it didn’t go towards any weddings or any triathlons,” he said.

(Just last month, Prime Minister Tony Abbott was forced to pay back expenses that he had claimed after attending a colleague’s wedding).

Councillor Bob Algate questioned the spending at a monthly meeting this week, declaring that it was “a lot of money.”

However, while it might seem excessive, the sum was down $2000 from the previous year.

Clr Jim Richards told the BDT yesterday that it was a “big figure” but “people need to travel.”

“Over a year, it’s less than $10,000 a month,” he said.

Council had spent the past financial year trying to cut back costs after it was faced with news that it may owe Perilya a $7 million refund.

In November 2012, councillors voted to decide whether to attend conferences on a “case by case” basis.

Since then, it has turned down a large number of invitations, including on Wednesday when councillors voted not to attend the inaugural local government Women’s Summit.

While Council’s policy is to reimburse acceptable costs, this is not true of all NSW local councils.

Camden Council in Sydney’s south-western suburbs, for example, encourages councillors to attend events at their own expense.

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