Councillors set for 15.76 % wage increase

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A sizeable wage increase of 15.76 per cent is on the cards for Ashburton District councillors from October.

The current remuneration pool for councillors, excluding the mayor and Methven Community Board members, is $383,524. From July 1 that will rise to $388,893 and following elections in October, the provisional pool amount will be $450,195.

The Remuneration Authority determines the pool of money councils must pay their elected councillors.

The increase will see councillors paid around $47,000.

Currently the deputy mayor is paid $58,365 and eight other councillors $40,645.

Commenting on the determination by the Remuneration Authority councillor John Falloon said the increase did not sit that well with him.

“I’m uneasy about it.”

Fellow councillor Carolyn Cameron said she too felt uncomfortable with the level of the increase.

“Wages are not keeping abreast of inflation and there is a disconnect to me that elected members can benefit to a greater extent than the people who voted for us and are out there earning wages.

“If we have to have an increase then it needs to be more modest and in line with what the rest of New Zealand is receiving,” she said.

Mayor Neil Brown felt differently and said “if you don’t want it you can give it away”.

A more attractive salary may help to get more younger people around the council table and the role could be a part time job for them, he said.

The Remuneration Authority has indicated for a number of years that remuneration for district councillors is below where it should be.

Some tasks performed at bigger councils are paid, but at smaller councils like Ashburton, those same tasks have gone without the same remuneration.

The remuneration pool paid doesn’t take into account the number of elected members on a council, but instead is based on size indices which take account of the workload of the entire council.

-By Mick Jensen