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Up, up and away with council pay

PHOTO/FILE

Councillors’ wages no incentive for the young

PAM GRAHAM
[email protected]

Just as the lowest paid in the country got the biggest increase in the minimum wage in history on Monday, councils mulled significant rises in pay for mayors and councillors mandated by the Remuneration Authority.

The rises for Masterton District Council are in a report for today’s council meeting, which notes the rises and has no power over them.

From July 1, its mayor’s salary rises by 6.2 per cent to $109,100 and a councillor’s honorarium rises by 9.6 per cent to $29,550.

There are also allowances for technology and for travel and extra money is paid for being a committee chairman or a deputy mayor.

The cost of the mayor and councillors for Masterton from July 1 will be $438,582.

That will rise further to $494,130 because of a rejig to the system after this year’s council elections, again ordained by the Remuneration Authority.

Under it, the Masterton mayor’s salary rises to $122,000 per annum and the base councillor rate is likely to be about $32,000.

The report says the post-election rises are $85,000 more than what has been budgeted for

It will only have a partial impact on the 2019/20 financial year as the rejig takes effect from the declaration of the results following the October 12 election.

But it is a significant cost increase that was not anticipated in the long-term plan, the report says.

The changes come after a review by the Remuneration Authority last year.

There are similar increases in all councils in Wairarapa.

The Remuneration Authority sets the pay for key office holders such as judges, Members of Parliament, local government representatives and some independent statutory bodies in New Zealand. It is required by law to be fair and independent.

“The council has no option but to receive the information and pay the remuneration as per the Remuneration Authority’s determinations,” the report says.

The report comes as young councillors lobby for higher pay, saying they work long hours and hours that don’t work in with other employment. They argue that’s why many councillors around the country are elderly.

In January, 24-year-old Rebecca Vergunst told media her workload as a Carterton district councillor put her on the minimum wage.

The mother-of-two earns $18,707 a year for her council work.

Only six per cent of elected members sitting around a council or community board table are under the age of 40, according to Local Government NZ.

The Young Elected Members Network is calling for urgent changes to break down barriers to enable younger people to get involved in local government.

The minimum wage rise to $17.70 an hour on Monday is the second in a series of increases with the next minimum wage increase provisionally scheduled to rise to $18.90 in April 2020 and $20.00 in April 2021.

2 COMMENTS

  1. how about the mayor and councillors give 10% of their wages and set up a fund for groups and charities that are finding it tough, this could also help with people in our community that want to give money to a good fund for wairarapa. malcolm willoughby

  2. Lets ask all those on council to trial living on a minimal wage for three months . From your salaries and perk payments , bank yourselves the minimal wage after a 17.5 % tax … (keep in mind that more tax is paid on the purchase of products after people receive their ‘net’ pay ) and then enlighten the lower income bracket how to do this and to enjoy a quality of life – as well as saving retirement, that the govrrnment wants people to do threatening no national super by the time some get there .

    I challenge you to do this.

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