VACANCY: Making room for council fleet downsizing at the Tewantin Council chambers.
VACANCY: Making room for council fleet downsizing at the Tewantin Council chambers. Peter Gardiner

Privilege, not a right to drive a council vehicle

AT NOOSA Council they are doing a Bob Ansett and driving their budget dollar further by removing one of the great perks of public service - ratepayer paid wheels that can be a personal after-work run-around.

Not all of council's car fleet is being disposed of - but car pooling is back in as council works towards reducing the 109 cars handed over by the Sunshine Coast Council to 79 for a $412,000 annual saving.

Prior to the forced Coast council amalgamations in 2008 Noosa used to run 95 "light vehicles".

Last year the regional council had wanted to hand over 124 that are leased at an average cost of $15,000 a year.

This number of vehicles was negotiated down by a total of 15.

Now council fleet co-ordinator Phil Parkman has put a wry grin on Mayor Noel Playford's face by moving hard and fast to stall any sense of "ownership" when it comes to using council cars.

After Mr Parkman told last week's planning and organisation committee meeting it had "taken a lot of effort from the directors downwards" to get some co-operation with this "little bit of a paradigm shift", the mayor asked him to explain how he went about this.

"Some staff or people may have in the past been of the opinion that that's their right to have a piece of equipment or a vehicle," Mr Parkman said.

"We had a bit of a clashing of the titans and at the end of the day, people have been reasonably co-operative.

"In the cases where they haven't been co-operative we've managed to get some consensus."

And Noosa CEO Brett de Chastel said Mr Parkman has the perfect line to end any argument about who should have a council car and that is: "The mayor and the CEO do not have a council vehicle, so if the mayor and the CEO don't have a vehicle, what hope have you got?"

Cr Playford said if staff members are suddenly told you can't have a company car anymore "you can't expect anybody to be happy about it - that's human nature".

"But frankly - one, we can't afford it and secondly, unless there's a need for that vehicle for operational purposes - well then sorry, we're not going to pay for it, because it's 15 grand a year," he said.

Cr Playford said the council was back to "car-pooling a bit".

"And that can be a bit inconvenient at times," he said.

Mr de Chastel said he has explained to senior staff about why they needed to encourage this fleet down-sizing. The argument he used makes a lot of sense.

"The average general rate for residential properties is $1200," the CEO said to them.

"So roughly every time we (the Noosa Council) can save on providing a car, that's got to equate to 12 households, so that is your 12 neighbours' rates saved."


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