Revamped payment cuts cash to councillors

Cr Terry Kennedy says he cannot support a decision to cut the pay of half Timaru's district councillors for the rest of the council term.

The sum a council pays itself is decided by the Remuneration Authority, which also decides the mayor's salary.

Councillors then recommend to the authority how the rest should be carved up.

The sudden death of deputy mayor and committee chairman Michael Oliver back in August meant the council reviewed its structure, opting to have a deputy mayor and four chairmen rather than a deputy mayor and three chairmen.

Mr Oliver had received the deputy mayor's honorarium, which was greater than a chairman's salary.

The pay rate has had to be changed to ensure the remuneration pool is not exceeded.

Councillors were given five options for cutting up the pie at yesterday's council meeting.

The options for councillors' pay were between $26,970 and $28,000 a year, committee chairmen between $34,980 and $37,310, and the deputy mayor between $32,180 and $41,490.

Cr Kennedy wanted the deputy mayor and four chairman all paid $36,280, leaving $28,000 for each of the five councillors who do not have other roles - the same as they have been paid so far this term.

His view received no support. Cr Kerry Stevens instead backed the option in which the deputy mayor received $40,200, chairmen $36,300 and councillors $27,200.

Councillor and committee chairman Cr Damon Odey agreed, adding the council could never have foreseen it finding itself in such a situation.

Not fair, said Cr Kennedy, noting that two long-serving councillors would be affected by such a decision. It would mean that, after tax, councillors would receive less than $300 a week.

"I could not support that. I am not happy, it is not right."

Also unwilling to support the five scenarios was councillor and committee chairman Cr Hamish Fraser, who believed all councillors should receive the same remuneration.

But he was outnumbered, as Crs Pat Mulvey, Tracy Tierney, Jo Taylor, Richard Lyon, Odey and Stevens supported the $36,300 for chairmen, $27,200 for councillors, scenario.

Also voting against the option were Crs Steve Earnshaw and Jane Coughlan.

The Timaru Herald