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‘Growth’ behind council salary hike

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

The cost of paying staff at South Wairarapa District Council has risen more than $550,000 in the last five years.

But chief executive Paul Crimp says the increase is a reflection of economic development.

In 2012 the council’s wage bill was at $2,337,107.

Since then, with the exception of a slight drop in wages in 2014, the council’s bill has steadily gone up, this year reaching $2,893,542.

These figures do not include payments made to Mayor Viv Napier or councillors.

Despite the figure increase, the headcount of 51 staff members employed in 2012 has only jumped to 56.

This equates to an increase of 4.5 full time employees (FTEs), a stark comparison to Masterton District Council, where staff numbers increased by 21.5 FTEs in just two-and-a-half years.

Mr Crimp said the slight staffing increase was a positive thing.

“Our headcount is four above the 2012 level and actually it is really pleasing to be able to achieve this because this headcount increase is by and large due to the increased activity or economic development in South Wairarapa.”

The highest paid staff member on the books was Mr Crimp, with a $216,000 salary.

When he took on the role as chief executive in 2013, his salary was $185,000, but this figure was later adjusted “to be closer to the chief executive salary market”.

One other employee earns more than $140,000 per year.

There has also been an increase in those earning between $80,000 to $139,999, going from six staff five years ago to nine today.

Mr Crimp said the increased staffing costs were offset by boosted revenue from fees and charges, and by the fact that building consents for the district had “nearly doubled” over the same five-year period, increasing from $490,000 in 2012 to $800,000 for the year ended June 2016.

Resource consent revenue for the same period had also increased, from $204,000 to $401,000.

He said fees for liquor licences set by the government under the new alcohol legislation had been “surprisingly” sufficient to cover increased costs, including salaries.

Mr Crimp said economic growth meant solid waste volumes increased and more buildings were being built, resulting in more staff being required.

“Increased activity also places pressure on infrastructure, which ultimately needs to be increased to cope.”

He said the undertaking of the wastewater project had put pressure on resources.

“We have managed this resourcing closely,” he said.

“All in all, the increases are the pleasing result of economic development and . . . the ratepayer has not had to stump up too much for the increase in city hall salaries.”


SWDC wage bracket spread for 2012:

Up to $60,000 (39 staff), $60,000 to $79,999 (five staff), $80,000 to $139,999 (six staff), $140,000 to $216,000 (one staff).


SWDC wage bracket spread for 2017:

Up to $60,000 (37staff), $60,000 to $79,999 (eight staff), $80,000 to $139,999 (nine staff), $140,000 to $216,000 (two staff).

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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