Communications allowances

Approach

The Authority’s view is that elected officials should not carry the costs of communicating with councils or with ratepayers. It is the responsibility of each council to decide the communications equipment needed to carry out its business effectively and efficiently and decisions about equipment for individual councillors should flow from that.

Council owned equipment

The Authority believes it is efficient if a council provides each elected official with a phone (mobile or landline), a PC and/or a tablet, and a compatible scanner & printer. The council should also cover the costs of any consumables required.

Equipment should remain the property of the council and shall be replaced or updated at least triennially.

Whilst the Authority has a strong preference for direct provision of equipment, the decision on whether elected officials can use personal devices and the nature of the technology required will be a local decision. In approving allowances in expenses documents, the Authority will seek confirmation of a formal decision by the council around the use of technology.

Member owned equipment

Where councils decide to provide an annual allowance to those using their own devices and/or connections, the following annual allowance will apply:

  • For the use of a personal computer, tablet or a laptop, including any related docking station, $200
  • For the use of a multi-functional or other printer, $40
  • For the use of a mobile telephone, $150
  • For the use of a home internet/broadband connection, $400
  • For the use of a personal telephone plan, $400 or actual cost upon production of receipts.

The total annual cost of allowances to a member for the use of her or his own equipment and services must not exceed $1190.

In the case where the council provides a mobile phone plan, the portion of the cost to be paid by the member to cover personal use will be agreed with the council. The Authority recommends that councils look at current practice in central government for models and we can supply examples if requested.

In the current determination, the Authority has assumed that councils will not be providing plans for home internet/broadband services because household use is growing significantly and it is unlikely that official use required by the elected member will be a high proportion of the cost. However, in cases where this is not so and the council wishes to supply the whole plan, the council should contact the Authority.

Unusual circumstances

In some areas of the country a regular landline or mobile coverage is not available. Where such circumstances exist the council may put a costed recommendation to the Authority for approval to make a one-off payment for installation and either a reimbursement or allowance for on-going maintenance and support reflecting the costs involved. It is anticipated this allowance will normally reflect no more than 75% of the costs involved.