Vehicle perk splits council

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Vehicle perk splits council

Proposed additional vehicle perks for what he terms as “junior officers” have been described as “overly generous” by Wattle Range Councillor John Drew.

Cr Drew spoke at length when a 10-page staff report on the subject from deputy chief executive Paul Duka was tabled at the March monthly council meeting.

The retired educator said the State Public Service had tighter rules on vehicle usage such as the requirement to obtain permission to travel interstate

“The policy is too open,” Cr Drew said.

“You could have 16-year-olds learning to drive in a council vehicle.

“The proposed policy means there will be little difference between those employees entitled to partial private use of a vehicle to those with full private use.”

One of the proposals is to allow the third-tier staff to drive up to 600km from Millicent without requiring the approval of chief executive Ben Gower.

“This is far too generous and should be removed,” Cr Drew said.

“You could take the council vehicle as far as Port Pirie.”

At present, the policy for council employees with a partial private use vehicle entitlement is a range of 400km.

Cr Drew said the additional private vehicle perks proposals needed more time for consideration by councillors and he succeeded with a motion to defer a decision until the April monthly council meeting.

Another suggested change is to allow anyone to drive a council vehicle which is allocated to a staff member with a partial private use entitlement.

At present, the only drivers with this permission are the designated council employee and any other Wattle Range Council employee.

Existing perks are unchanged in the proposed revised vehicle policy with council meeting all fuel costs and employees retaining the use of their allocated vehicle during holidays and long service leave.

Cr David Walshaw said the proposed revised policy was over-generous but a contrary view was expressed by Cr Chris Brodie.

Cr Dale Price said such inducements as vehicle access were important to attract key personnel to the Wattle Range Council workforce.

In reply to a query from Cr Cox, Mr Gower said the proposed revised vehicle policy applied to between six and eight council employees who held the rank of manager.

Mr Gower said the revision of the vehicle entitlements was necessary as there were significant differences in the individual employment contracts and he was looking to standardise them.

Mr Duka said it was proposed to allow additional drivers of council vehicles as this would work against driver fatigue.

In his written commentary, Mr Duka said there had been consultation with staff over the proposals in the revised policy.

Mr Duka said it was proposed to ban vaping and e-cigarettes in council vehicles.

“Wattle Range Council has a number of motor vehicles within its vehicle fleet that are allocated to some senior staff and the Mayor,” Mr Duka said.

“As part of attracting and retaining senior staff for various management roles within council, the ability to provide a motor vehicle with full or partial private use of this vehicle is an important part of council’s recruitment and retention strategy.”

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