How much are Tauranga city councillors earning?

By John Cousins

13 comments


Tauranga City councillor Rick Curach is getting paid $74,000 a year to spend an average of 22 hours a week on council business.

That equates to about $65 an hour.

Cr Curach made the shock admission that he worked 20 hours a week at a meeting where each councillor was asked how much time they were spending per week on council duties.

"I am trying to be truthful," Cr Curach said on Monday to gasps from around the council table.

Following the reaction, he clarified to the Bay of Plenty Times that he actually worked 22 hours a week.

The youngest councillor said he had taken a fairly close look at the amount of time he spent on council duties and it added up to about half a full-time job - 20 hours a week.

Councillors were being surveyed on their hours as part of a questionnaire from the Remuneration Authority which was proposing to change how all the country's councillors got paid.

 


 


Following the council workshop on Monday, Cr Curach emailed the Bay of Plenty Times to say he had referred back to his original source material and found that the figure should have been 22 hours a week.

Councillor Murray Guy was the next lowest in the number of hours spent each week on council business. He admitted to spending about three-quarters of a 40-hour week on council business - 30 hours.

The rest of the council reported working between 35 and 50 hours a week, with Bill Grainger claiming the biggest effort with 45 to 50 hours a week.

Cr Guy said after the meeting he was amazed how some elected members had reported a greater than an average 40-hour commitment a week.

Cr Guy believed most elected members were offering fair value for money. He received $1911 a fortnight after tax and did not claim expenses.

His estimate of hours took account of how councillors were on breaks for longer than the four-weeks over the summer holidays. There were breaks in the councillors' diary during the year that coincided with term school holidays.

This year there were no formal meetings scheduled for the first week of July and the first week of October.

Cr Guy said what also had to be considered was that a councillor's time was never their own because they were always on call from the public. For the most part it was not possible to hold down an alternative income once you were elected.

Mayor Stuart Crosby, who left the meeting for another appointment before councillors were asked about their hours, said he worked an average 60-hour-week.

His observations from 26 years in local government was that different councillors worked different hours. Some were minimalistic while others got in boots and all and put in long hours.

"It varies, and I am not being critical. The level of commitment and passion for the job do vary.

"Good on Cr Curach for being honest. He is always honest and tells it the way it is. However there are other councillors that do 50 per cent more work than that ... it tends to be the same people who put up their hands for extra work."

Mr Crosby disagreed that Cr Curach had painted himself into a corner with his admission. "He is being honest."<inline type="recurring-inline" id="1003" align="outside" enforce-sites="no" />

He said that maybe the community could say that the Cr Curach should be on $35,000 a year instead of $74,000, but that was not the way it worked in local government. "It is not as black and white as saying 'I only work 20 hour a week and I am only worth so much' - you never stop being a councillor."

Mr Crosby said Tauranga councillors' salaries had increased dramatically when the council was cut to 10 members, and they would now be among the highest paid in the country because Tauranga had become New Zealand's fifth largest city.


 


Read Tauranga City councillor Rick Curach's response in Wednesday's Bay of Plenty Times.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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