Councillors to get pay rises of up to $16,000

CATHIE BELL
Last updated 11:29 06/05/2013

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Pay rates for Marlborough district councillors and the mayor will increase after the council elections in October.

The Remuneration Authority, which sets judges and central and local government politicians' salaries, last week proposed a new system for councillors' salaries, which would see the salary set by the authority, rather than a pool from which individual councils draw on.

Under that proposal, the mayoral salary would increase $4,550 from $119,000 to $123,550 and councillors' base salaries would rise $5000 from $28,000 to $33,000 a year.

Mayor Alistair Sowman has $4284 deducted from his salary to cover any private use of a car provided as mayoral vehicle.

The authority had yet to finalise the salaries because it was still consulting on the amount councillors would receive for extra responsibilities, such as chairing committees.

Council democracy services manager Mike Porter said councillors chairing committees were paid just under $42,000, and this could increase to $49,500.

Authority chairman John Errington said in the report the proposals came out of a two-year review. The recommendations would be implemented after the elections at the end of this year.

The Remuneration Authority, which sets the pay for city, district and regional councils, has increased the national pay pool by 8.9 per cent, meaning councillors in some councils would pocket rises of up to $16,000 after this year's elections.

By comparison, average workers' pay packets were creeping up about 1.8 per cent a year.

Local Government New Zealand chairman Lawrence Yule said elected officials were finding it increasingly difficult to hold down other employment.

"If they're to give up other career options, or significant family life, or significant other things they're doing, then they do have to be properly remunerated."

Knowing the minimum salary would help potential candidates decide whether to stand, he said.

But Public Service Association national secretary Richard Wagstaff described the increased pay pool as "way out of proportion" with what council staff and employees in the wider public sector were getting.

"Clearly councillors work hard, but so do the people that work for councils, and there should be a much fairer distribution of resources."

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- The Marlborough Express

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