The West

Councillors reimbursed $400,000
Janet Davidson

Ratepayers paid more than $400,000 to reimburse WA councillors for clothing, travel, child care and phone expenses last year.

Across the metropolitan area, local government expense claims ranged from several hundred dollars to the $170,847 claimed by the City of Swan's 15 councillors.

The City of Perth's nine councillors - who are entitled to claim $13,360 each for expenses incurred carrying out duties - claimed a total of $86,835 in 2011/12, a rise of almost $10,000 on the previous year.

Deputy Lord Mayor Janet Davidson received the biggest refund of $13,207.

More than $6500 related to flights and accommodation after she attended an Australian Local Government Women's Association conference in Queensland.

Cr Davidson, who also claimed more than $1600 on taxis and mileage, said she took annual leave from her day job to attend to local government business.

She pointed out she had been on the council for more than 14 years, in which time allowances had risen by $2000 to $7000, yet politicians had had a number of pay rises.

Cr Eleni Evangel had the second-highest claim of $11,839, including $740 on clothes bought in Bali, a $1500 phone bill and $1251 on hairdressing.

She said it was vital to look the part when on council duty.

"We put in that many hours, it's not funny," she said. "I can speak on behalf of every councillor when I say we are putting in 150 per cent.

"But it actually costs us all to be councillors and you do it because you love the city."

Lord Mayor Lisa Scaffidi claimed $11,180, including more than $8000 on glasses, drycleaning and clothes, some bought in London.

On top of annual attendance fees of $7000, or $14,000 for mayors, councillors can claim for expenses including mileage, child care and telecommunications.

The City of Swan's $170,847 total included $55,000 for phone and internet, $29,756 for training and $85,309 for travel and mileage.

Chief executive Mike Foley said the electorate was the biggest local government, geographically, in the metropolitan area.

The West Australian

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