Council car exceeds cost limits

THE COUNCIL has allocated deputy mayor Julie Arthur a $49,000 Commodore station wagon that is some $21,000 over the council's own policy on what councillors' cars should cost to buy.

Councillors are supposed to be offered cars of “executive type sedan equivalent to a four cylinder Honda Accord VTi or Toyota (Camry) Altise or similar standard vehicle”, a council spokesperson told the Chronicle.

“I have checked and these cars quoted cost around $28,000,” councillor David Dalgleish, who drives his private car for council business but claims mileage, confirmed yesterday.

The council spokesman said the deputy mayor's station wagon was allocated to a staff member who had left the council “and as the vehicle had limited mileage and was not due for replacement it was seen as appropriate at that time”.

“When the vehicle is due for replacement, it will be replaced in accordance with the policy.”

This week the Chronicle asked the council if any exceptions to the policy on councillors' cars had been officially presented to the councillors for approval or otherwise.

“All councillors were informed that Councillor Arthur was to be offered a Commodore station wagon, already in the council's fleet, rather than replace her Honda Accord with a new Accord,” the spokesman said.

“When the vehicle is due for replacement it will be replaced with a Honda Accord or equivalent in accordance with the policy.”

Mr Dalgleish said that other councillors driving council cars had not had their vehicles replaced recently, except for Anne Nioa in the wake of her tragic car crash in June.

“Perhaps it would have been more economically sensible to give councillor Nioa the station wagon?

“And there are other councillors who are also driving council cars that cost more than the policy stipulates.”

The council spokesman said the mayor was driving a Holden Statesman and councillors Hawes, O'Connell, Nioa, Harris and Hovard were driving the policy approved Honda Accord.

Sue Brooks however is driving a Toyota Prius, which is worth more than $28,000.

Councillor McNeven was driving a $30,000-plus Honda hybrid prior to her standing for the federal election. But, according to the council spokesman, she is now driving her own vehicle, as is councillor MucKan, who gave his council car back in August.

Mr Dalgleish said the council's vehicle policy inspired “use and abuse”.

“At least in driving my own car I can buy my petrol at any service station I choose as opposed to council cars having a swipe card for Caltex outlets.”

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