Greater Wellington Regional Council staff move quickly to increase pay packets

DAMIAN GEORGE
Last updated 17:14 29/11/2016
MONIQUE FORD/ FAIRFAX NZ

Greater Wellington Regional Council chairman Chris Laidlaw has approved pay rises for staff with "positions of extra responsibility".

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Councillor David Ogden suggested reducing rates to the rate of inflation over the next three years, but received little support from his colleagues.

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Greater Wellington regional councillors have voted unanimously to spend an extra $32,000 on their own pay for the remainder of the financial year.

The councillors met for the first time at Hutt City Council on Tuesday, after their planned first meeting on November 16 was postponed due to their Shed 39 offices on Wellington's waterfront sustaining earthquake damage.

The proposal was one of the first orders of business for the new councillors, and it passed without hesitation.

While the extra spending will not greatly affect individual staff salaries, the council has agreed to dip into a further $32,194 available for "positions of additional responsibility" among councils.

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That allocation, set by the Remuneration Authority, was lifted recently from 1.5 times that of a councillor base salary to two times that figure.

For Wellington, which has a base councillor salary of $62,626, that meant an increase in the available pool of more than $31,000 - from just under $94,000 to a little over $125,000.

While the previous council voted in May to allocate only $93,058 of that pool, the new councillors have wasted little time in utilising the full amount.

The biggest increase will be for the chair of the Hutt Valley flood management subcommittee, whose salary will rise more than $10,000, to $78,300.

However, that councillor, Prue Lamason, will have the added responsibility of heading the parks, forests, biodiversity and recreation portfolio.

There will be minimal increases or decreases for other councillors' salaries.

The council also approved the appointment of staff positions, though Barbara Donaldson called for a term review of those appointments, which was agreed on by council.

David Ogden suggested reducing rates to the rate of inflation over the next three years, but received little support.

Chairman Chris Laidlaw said that, given financial pressures stemming from the effects of the recent earthquake, there would probably "not be much scope" to reduce rates.

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Sue Kedgley agreed, saying now was not the time to reduce rates, but rather to "ensure Wellington is sustainable for the next few years".

Paul Swain pointed out regional council rates were not calculated in relation to the consumer price index, so reducing rates to the rate of inflation was not "comparing apples with apples".

The council agreed to change its structure for the 2016-2019 triennium, appointing new environment and sustainable transport committees. 

Several additional committees will oversee work in more technical areas such as finance, audit and risk and regional plan development.

The council carried out the remainder of its meeting behind closed doors in a private workshop.

Its next meeting is scheduled for December 8, again at the Hutt City Council.

- Stuff

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