Ratepayers label council-subsidised vehicles an extravagant perk

Ratepayers Association member Mike Lanternier says ratepayers are calling for a Perth council to scrap its generous subsidised vehicle policy.
Ratepayers Association member Mike Lanternier says ratepayers are calling for a Perth council to scrap its generous subsidised vehicle policy.

RESIDENTS are calling for the Town of Victoria Park to scrap a generous ratepayer subsidised vehicle policy, labelling it an “extravagant perk”.

Ratepayers Association of the Town of Victoria Park Group chair Vince Maxwell said staff were paying as little as $18.40 a week for a fully-maintained council car for personal use.

“The fee includes servicing, fuelling, registration and insurance, all of which is borne by the ratepayers,” he said. “The policy has been in place since 1998 and allows staff possession of a council-owned vehicle to use as they wish

“They can use it, their family members can use it and even their friends can use it, provided the staff member is in the vehicle.”

Town of Victoria Park chief executive Anthony Vuleta said the policy was under review.

“The Town has 30 vehicles that have private usage and 11 operational vehicles with approved commute use, including ranger vehicles, for example,” he said.

“The Town pays running costs such as insurance, registration, maintenance and fuel on these vehicles, with staff contributions made to those with private-use privileges.”

Mr Vuleta said the Town had reduced the size of its light vehicle fleet over the last four to five years and has included cheaper, greener electric bicycles in its fleet.

“However, many of the light fleet vehicles have operational requirements and are required to perform essential services within the Town,” he said.

Mr Vuleta said the operating costs for the scheme were $318,000 per annum and the employee contribution values was guided by the RAC’s annual Car Running Costs Guide.

However, Mr Maxwell said in 2018 the RAC found the average cost to run a small car like a Subaru Impreza was $154.58 per week.

“This is more than eight times what managers and four times what the rest of the staff are paying,” he said.

“We cannot afford both high salaries and cheap, almost free, cars for everyone.

“It is time that the CEO and the staff move into the real world and get rid of these extravagant perks.”