CASH-STRAPPED councillors claimed a total of almost £800,000 in allowances and expenses last year, we can reveal. That is almost £40,000 more than the previous 12 months.
Scottish Borders Council - which must publish the allowances and expenses paid to its members annually - has confirmed its 34 councillors claimed a total of £784,174.27 in the last financial year - despite the basic annual salary paid to each of the elected members remaining at £16,234.
The local authority blamed the hike in part to a change in the date staff were paid, from the 15th to the end of the month, which accounted for an additional half month's salary.
While there was a cut in the phone bill from £41,566.54 to £38,244.69, there was an increase in the amount of travel expenses paid out, £66,502.36 in 2011/12 compared to £62,363.24 in the 2010/11 - an increase of 6.6 per cent.
And the costs of members' attendance at training events, conferences and seminars more than doubled from £2,213.40 to £5,517.98 - an increase of £3,304.58.
The increase in the travel expenses, it said, could be attributed to councillors decision to increase the car and van mileage rate for staff from 40p per mile to 45p per mile, effective from November 14, last year.
The highest earning member was Independent Councillor David Parker (Leaderdale and Melrose) who took home a pay packet of £40,858.35. However, as Leader of the council, that included a higher starting salary of £32,470.
The member who claimed the least was outgoing Liberal Democrat Councillor Jim Hume (Galashiels and District) who also represented the region in the Scottish Parliament.
The figures were presented to councillors at a full meeting of the council in Newtown St Boswells on Thursday, May 24.
How much did your local councillor take home? We have listed the local councillors and the total amounts they received from the public purse below.
Galashiels and District - Sandy Aitchison (Borders Party): £20,110.92; Jim Hume (Liberal Decmocrat): £18,056.15; Fiona Lackeby (Conservative): £18,174.25; John Mitchell (SNP): £19,800.50.
Selkirkshire - Vicky Davidson (Liberal Democrat, Executive Member for Economic Development): £26,581.95; Kenneth Gunn (SNP): £18,745.10; Carolyn Riddell-Carre (Conservative, Executive Member for Planning and Environment): £24,226.34.
Leaderdale and Melrose - David Parker (Independent, Leader): £40,858.35; John Paton-Day (Lideral Democrat): £20,164.30; Nicholas Watson (Borders Party): £18,540.83.