Phone costs concern councillor

Hume City council . Photo by Damjan Janevski. 228421_03

By Jessica Micallef

A Hume councillor has voted against the Councillor Code of Conduct over concerns the code’s requirement for him to use his council-issued email address and mobile phone would be an “added cost“ to ratepayers.

Hume’s 10 other councillors voted to adopt the code of conduct, which sets out the rules and guidelines for councillors over the next four years.

The code requires councillors to use their council provided mobile phone numbers and email addresses when communicating in their capacity as councillors, with other councillors, council staff and members of the public.

Councillors can use their personal phones and emails when required.

Cr Trevor Dance said the use of council-issued email addresses and mobile phones was at a “ratepayers’ cost“ of more than $11,000 a year per councillor, per year.

I have consistently said that I would not be claiming any expenses during my four-year term,“ he said.

“…Due to business and and private reasons, I would be carrying around three mobile phones, two or three iPads and two laptops.

“The cost of me having to use these things will be an added cost to the ratepayers.“

However, during the meeting, council officers said councillors’ mobile phones cost about $2000 per year, per councillor.

Deputy mayor Jack Medcraft said having a council-issued mobile phone and email address ensured councillors were approachable by the community.

“We have a council email address and a council phone so people know they are talking to a councillor, not someone who is pretending to be one,“ he said.

“There are 10 councillors who have a council email and a council number and there is one councillor who doesn’t.

“We are all elected together … and there are rules and regulations in which we are putting into place and you are expected to adhere to the rules and regulations.“