SALARIES and expenses for Shetland Islands Council members dropped by just over one per cent in the last financial year to nearly £491,000.
Wages for the 22 councillors, which are set nationally, amounted to just over £406,000, with leader Gary Robinson receiving the highest wage of £28,157.
Robinson, who has been replaced in the role by Cecil Smith after he failed to be re-elected in May’s local vote, also racked up the highest expenses of £16,271 but much of that figure will represent travel to the UK mainland and Brussels for meetings.
A total of £84,446 was claimed in expenses, which represents a decrease on the previous year of over £9,000.
The second highest claim for expenses was from Shetland North councillor Drew Ratter, who asked for £11,940, while convenor Malcolm Bell claimed £11,832.
The lowest expenses payout for a third year in a row was to harbour board chairwoman Andrea Manson, who asked for a total of £8.31.
The highest car and van mileage claim was £3,828 by north councillor Alastair Cooper.
In terms of salaries, Bell was second to Robinson with £21,118, while the basic pay for councillors is £16,893.
Chairs of committees received either £18,555 or £19,568.
Total expenditure on salaries was up from last year by around £4,000.
Councillors are only allowed to claim expenses on money they spent while on official business, while there is a limit set by the Scottish Government.
Bell said the local authority is keen to limit travel costs by taking part in video conferences where possible.
“I’m pleased to see a reduction in this year’s figures. We are well aware of the balance we need to strike between adequately representing our ward – and the rest of Shetland – and keeping the costs to a minimum,” he said.
“We do try as much as possible to conduct business remotely by audio or videoconference, but it is essential to attend some meetings in person.
“We are all aware of the high travel costs we face as Shetlanders, and we try to make sure we attend to as much official business as possible when we do travel.
“It is important to remember that councillors do not benefit personally from the expenses they claim – this is money which they have already paid themselves in carrying out their duties, and which they can reclaim.”
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