City rejects party rumours

Outgoing Belmont chief executive Stuart Cole.
Outgoing Belmont chief executive Stuart Cole.

Stuart Cole’s appraisal, remuneration package, and goals and targets for 2014-15 were only approved after deputy mayor Robert Rossi cast the deciding vote to break the 4-4 deadlock, indicating the chief executive’s popularity with councillors ” two of them newcomers in the October 2013 elections ” could be on the wane.

Eight of Belmont’s nine councillors were present at the September 23 council meeting, with Mayor Phil Marks absent due to his last minute attendance as chairman of an Australian Mayoral Aviation Council meeting in Canberra.

Those who voted against Mr Cole’s APA all have an affiliation with the Belmont Community Group (BCG). Swan MHR and Liberal Party member Steve Irons previously alleged that a Labor Trojan horse was at work in the community in the guise of the BGC.

Half of those who voted in favour of Mr Cole’s APA have links to the Liberal party.

The councillors against were Lauren Cayoun and Patrick Gardner, both elected last October, Paul Hitt and Margie Bass.

Cr Cayoun is Labor East Metropolitan MLC Samantha Rowe’s electoral officer and BCG secretary. Cr Gardner is married to Ms Rowe’s sister Cassie, who is BCG president and president of the Ascot/Belmont Branch of the ALP. Cr Bass is a BCG committee member and Cr Hitt is a WA Australian Labor Party member.

Those in support were Cr Rossi, Bernie Ryan, Janet Powell and Steve Wolff; Cr Rossi and Cr Ryan are Liberal Party of Australia (WA) members.

Belmont’s executive committee ” comprising councillors Gardner, Powell, Wolff, Rossi and Marks ” voted unanimously on August 25 to approve the APA and pay rise but Cr Gardner changed his vote at the September 23 council meeting.

He would not comment when the Gazette rang last week and our calls were not returned by councillors Bass and Wolff.

But the remaining councillors said while the group voting did look suspicious, they felt sure each had voted for their own independent reasons and not along party lines.

Details of the annual appraisal remain confidential as the matter was discussed behind closed doors but the chief executive is on a five-year contract with annual assessments and, according to the City’s 2013 annual report, the highest possible annual salary was between $240,000 and $249,000.

In 2011, the remuneration package was increased to the fifth step of the Mercer Consulting Australia pay schedule unanimously after an increase to the fourth step the year prior.

Five years ago, in 2009, the council voted 10-1 for the remuneration package to be increased to the mid-point on the Mercer scale.

Mercer is a global, independent organisation that provides a professional methodology for determining reliable comparative remuneration data.

Its annual ‘payline increase’ determination provides the City with an objective methodology for applying an appropriate rate increase specifically applicable to the City’s chief executive, consistent with the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal requirements.