Fees, allowances bolster councillors' pay
Is 89% a good attendance rate for Wellington city councillors at meetings?
The pay packets of Wellington city councillors are getting an average top-up of more than $15,000 from extra allowances and fees.
The full remuneration details of all 15 councillors are revealed in the council's annual report - which also shows they are missing more than 10 per cent of the meetings they are required to attend, although four had perfect attendance records.
The yearly performance summary reveals details of additional pay received by councillors on top of their set salaries. They all received at least $3000 extra for "non-monetary" benefits such as parking, insurance and technology allowances.
Other councillors receive additional pay for work on resource consent hearings and appointments to other boards.
Deputy Mayor Ian McKinnon had the highest extra pay, with $46,254 on top of his salary - taking the full package to $142,954 - largely due to his role on the board of Wellington International Airport.
Simon Marsh is on the zoo trust, and received $18,360 extra.
The additional pay reflected extra hours required for those roles, he said. "It means that you don't just say: 'Oh well, I spend 40 hours a week on things.'
"All councillors would spend time in the evenings and on the weekends for the added responsibility, for example being on the zoo board."
The report also showed the 14 councillors attended an average of 89 per cent of meetings in the past financial year.
Jo Coughlan attended the fewest, at 79 per cent.
Attendance figures are based on meetings for the full council, as well as sub-committees and committees of which councillors are members.
Ms Coughlan said yesterday that her lower attendance was the result of her being out of town for other council duties.
"It's pretty high considering I have had two trips to China and had a local government conference."
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown attended 66 per cent of the meetings, but the report explains that, as mayor, she is listed as a member of all committees and cannot attend them all.
Ms Wade-Brown said her other mayoral responsibilities often clashed with meetings. "My time commitment is to the best interest of the city . . . I read the agendas of meetings and, if I can't attend, due to, for example, a select committee not being moveable, I either brief the chair on my views or request the item be taken when I can be there."
Many other councillors, including Ms Coughlan, also recorded several extra hours in their roles as portfolio leaders that were not accounted for in the annual report, she said.
"I'm very pleased with the way portfolio leaders have engaged with their areas of responsibility . . Statutory meetings are an essential part of our democracy and elected members of committees generally see them as a high priority."
- The Dominion Post
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