Councillors on boards keep extra pay

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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Most of the Wellington city councillors appointed to boards for the organisation's businesses have voted to retain the extra pay packets they get for those roles.

In a tight vote that nearly saw councillor fees for roles on Council-Controlled Organisation boards scrapped, strategy and policy committee chairman Andy Foster used his casting vote to retain the pay packets.

Each of the seven councillors who voted to retain the fees receives pay from board appointments. However, Ian McKinnon's role on the airport board, and John Morrison's on the stadium trust, do not fall under the CCO banner.

Councillors appointed to CCO boards receive an extra $15,000 a year.

Justin Lester was the only councillor on a board to vote against the pay packets, while Paul Eagle was absent.

However, the move to axe the fees nearly succeeded during the second half of a debate considering a review of CCOs.

Last week, the committee failed to complete the debate after spending about two hours considering the future of Wellington Waterfront. They eventually voted to bring it in-house in 2015 but ditched plans for a staged approach that would have split the operational and capital roles of the organisation.

The meeting resumed yesterday, and the majority of the debate - which took a further 2 hours - focused on the pay packets.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown moved that pay for councillors appointed to boards be scrapped, saying it would help remove questions of conflicts of interest.

Councillors were on the boards to represent the council and so it should fall under their existing responsibilities, for which they were already remunerated, she said.

Other councillors agreed, with Mr Lester saying he was not paid extra for his role on the Tawa Community Board.

However, fellow community board member Ngaire Best disagreed. Not being paid for that role created a "two-class system" on the board, where she and Mr Lester were not always considered equal, she said.

That would happen on CCO boards if councillors were not on an even footing with other members. "It would actually be to our collective detriment to allow for that two-class system within our boards."

Ray Ahipene-Mercer voted against axing the pay, and questioned the idea of conflict of interest, saying it went both ways. Some councillors were ideologically opposed to CCOs yet would attend functions hosted by those organisations and accept food, drink and "baubles", which was "hypocritical".

If people did not agree to those payments, then the whole councillor remuneration system should be readdressed and "flattened", not just one part of it, he said.

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The amendment to axe the pay packets passed, by seven votes to six - but councillor Simon Marsh was absent for the vote. By the time the whole item was put to the vote, he had returned, and the pay issue was again voted on separately. He voted against, making it a tied vote.

Mr Foster used his casting vote and the motion failed, meaning the pay packets were retained.

The matter will go to full council later this month.

HOW THEY VOTED

To axe pay: Mayor Celia Wade-Brown; Stephanie Cook; Leonie Gill; Justin Lester (Wellington Waterfront Board, $15,000); Iona Pannett; Bryan Pepperell; Helene Ritchie

To keep pay: Ray Ahipene-Mercer (Wellington Museums Trust, $15,000); Ngaire Best (Positively Wellington Venues, $15,000); Jo Coughlan (Positively Wellington Tourism, $15,000); Andy Foster (Capacity, $15,000); Ian McKinnon ** (Wellington International Airport, $42,094); Simon Marsh (Wellington Zoo Trust, $15,000); John Morrison ** (Wellington Regional Stadium Trust, $18,000) Absent: Paul Eagle (Positively Wellington Venues, $15,000)

** Councillors appointed to external boards and pay may not be affected.

Contact Katie Chapman
Wellington reporter
Email: katie.chapman@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @katiechapman28

- © Fairfax NZ News

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