Mayor cracks down after $14k cab spend
LORD Mayor Adrian Schrinner has cracked down on councillor taxi privileges, after his own party charged ratepayers thousands of dollars for hundreds of cab fares.
The Courier-Mail can reveal ratepayers have forked out almost $14,000 since March 2016 on cab fares for LNP committee and council chairs to travel around Brisbane.
This was despite each councillor having access to a vehicle under Brisbane City Council's fleet acquisition program.
The biggest spender was former Chair of Council Angela Owen, who charged ratepayers $5777.61, while current Deputy Mayor Krista Adams also racked up a taxi bill of $3241.95 over the same period.
Cr Schrinner's taxi bill since March 2016 also reached over $2200, which mostly included trips he took while serving as Deputy Mayor.
The Lord Mayor told The Courier-Mail that new taxi guidelines had been drawn up which would require councillors to use Cabcharge cards only when "the person is travelling on official business".
"At my request, the outdated 36-year-old taxi guidelines have been reviewed to ensure they are relevant in today's day and age and that their application is crystal clear going forward," he said.
"These new guidelines will be supplied to and will apply to all Council Chairs and the Opposition Leader who are permitted to use taxis from time to time as they do not have drivers to take them to and from events at which they have an official role."
The new guidelines, which are set to be given final approval tomorrow, say Cabcharge cards can only be used when the councillor is travelling on "official business".
It also says Cabcharge card holders should use their Council-supplied vehicles "where possible".
"Official business means attendance at an event where the named person has an official role," the guidelines say.
"Examples include speaking responsibilities, award/prize presentations, hosting responsibilities and representing the Lord Mayor.
"Cabcharge credit cards may not be used at Council expense for private purposes.
"Use of the card outside of entitlement must be paid for personally by the person named on the card."
Council Opposition Leader Peter Cumming said Cr Schrinner was bringing in the new rules as a smokescreen to dodge community outrage over Cr Owen's use of cabs.
Labor last month alleged in the council chamber that Cr Owen had billed ratepayers at least $400 for three cab fares over two separate days in 2018-19 to travel to or from concerts at Boondall.
"Cr Schrinner is the only person in Brisbane who thinks it's acceptable for a highly paid person with a fully maintained council car to take $300 round trips to concerts at Boondall," Cr Cumming said.
"This council signed off on the existing rules in June despite the mayor claiming they had not been reviewed since 1983. Now he's pretending to take action."