THE Perth commissioners this week slashed the suspended Lord Mayor’s fees by more than half and stopped sitting fee payments to suspended councillors.
The Commissioners’ hands were tied by the Local Government Act when it came to Lisa Scaffidi’s fees, forcing them to cap her fees at to $60,900 per annum, despite her not being able to perform her role.
Her full entitlement is $135,909.
In a statement, Chief of Commissioners Eric Lumsden said the decision would save ratepayers “more than $400,000 per year”.
“The Commissioners took the position that it would not be acceptable to rate payers and the public for elected members to continue to be paid meeting attendance fees, whilst they were unable to fulfil their duties due to their suspension,” he said.
Before the April 24 meeting commenced, suspended councillor Lexi Barton’s lawyer Timothy Houweling tried unsuccessfully to convince the commissioners to continue to allow the payment of fees.
“There is an annual fee that is to be paid to the councillors for the purposes of their sitting,” he said.
“(We urge) that you continue with the policy and respect matters of law as it relates to the sitting fees.”
He said stopping payments would give voice to Local Government Minister David Templeman’s view “that any decent person wouldn’t take sitting fees”.
Suspended councillor Steve Hasluck said on Twitter he was “disappointed that the matter of sitting fees had to become a decision for the commissioners”.
“I announced I would not accept fees in the immediate aftermath of the announcement of council’s suspension as, in my view, it was the right thing to do,” he said.
“I think the ‘pub test’ would overwhelmingly show that taking sitting fees during a time that one is suspended and not carrying out official duties is simply wrong.
“It’s not doing the right thing by our community and ratepayers.”
The commissioners also approved the suspended James Limnios be reimbursed $10,000 for legal fees, but rejected Deputy Mayor Gemma Green’s application.