Big pay increases for top council staff

KRIS DANDO
Last updated 11:00 17/06/2014

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Thirty employees at Porirua City Council each earn more than $100,000, a big increase on 2012.

The recently released Ratepayers' Report by the Taxpayers' Union studied salaries, expenses, assets and costs for New Zealand's 67 councils. It covered the year to June 30, 2013, using information from councils' annual reports.

Porirua City Council chief executive Gary Simpson's salary, set by city councillors, is $312,224. It was $298,000 in 2012.

Porirua mayor Nick Leggett earns $105,314, up from $101,333 in October 2013. His salary is set by the Remuneration Authority.

Along with Simpson, the top earning managers at the council are Wendy Walker (strategy and planning), Roy Baker (corporate services, chief financial officer), Euan Dempsey (community services), Peter Bailey (asset management and operations) and David Rolfe (environment and regulatory services).

It is understood each earns between $175,000 and $200,000.

Simpson said he was comfortable with what the senior managers earned, and that they were subjected to a robust process to justify their salaries.

"We use independent market data that sets the value of their jobs. It's not a casual process," he said.

The reason for the rise - from 23 to 30 (out of 249 fulltime staff) - in council employees drawing more than $100,000 was twofold, Simpson said: contractors becoming staff members and employees in the $90,000 to $100,000 band getting pay increases after reviews.

Attracting quality staff was always difficult, with Wellington City Council and the Government down the road, Simpson said, but Porirua was holding its own.

"The money issue is something facing all local councils, but our point of difference is factors like being close to home, diversity of work and a smaller staff."

Simpson said the Taxpayers' Union results were "hugely pleasing".

Although the average rates bill for Porirua ratepayers was $2344, compared with an average of $1892 for city councils and $2019 for all councils in New Zealand, Porirua's debt levels and average spend on ratepayers made for good reading, he said.

The council spent $3974 on each ratepayer, while the average spend by other city councils was $3411 and the national average was $3671.

"Our debt, related to assets, puts us way up the list and the results show that we're in fundamentally good shape.

"Only Wellington is ranked above us overall in this region and while they have a huge asset base, their debt is very high.

"The scope of things we do in Porirua does cost, but our low debt does give us capacity to borrow if there is a disaster." 

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EARNINGS

Mayor Nick Leggett $105,314 ($101,333 from June 2012 till October 2013).

Deputy mayor 'Ana Coffey $41,340 ($35,972).

Committee chairman Euon Murrell $41,340 ($40,288).

Councillors $31,800 ($28,776).

THE RATEPAYERS' REPORT

Produced annually by the Taxpayers' Union, it provides a comparison of New Zealand's 67 local authorities. The figures are taken from each council's annual report.

- Kapi-Mana News

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