Tauranga's deputy mayor Kelvin Clout has emerged as the big winner in the latest round of pay rises agreed by the city council.
The council yesterday increased the deputy's pay to $85,139 - a rise of $10,313 on what Mr Clout currently received.
Mayor Stuart Crosby told the Bay of Plenty Times that it was taking the deputy mayor's pay margin back to where it used to be.
He said there was no doubt that Mr Clout worked hard. He had his own office in the Civic Centre and was there every day, and not just for meetings. "He assists me when required. The difference between a standard councillor and the deputy mayor has to be appropriately recognised."
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Mr Crosby said the pay rise had not been at the request of Mr Clout.
Yesterday's decision could potentially have little impact on the deputy mayor. He is guaranteed to only receive a quarter of the $10,213 pay rise because of the council elections on October 8.
The rest of the council voted itself pay rises ranging from $455 to $1758, with the mayor's pay going up $2214 to nearly $150,000. Mr Crosby is not seeking re-election and intends to run for a seat on the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.
The Remuneration Authority which sets the basic pay rates for New Zealand's mayors and councillors increased the basic salary for Tauranga's councillors by 1.5 per cent to $70,949. It also lifted Mr Crosby's salary by 1.5 per cent to $149,814. The new rates start July 1.
It left the council the job of deciding how much to reward the deputy mayor and committee chairpersons for their additional responsibilities.
Although it could have theoretically doubled the ordinary councillor's rate, it stuck with a small increase made even smaller by a successful move by councillor John Robson to reduce the recommended 3 per cent margin to 2 per cent for committee chairs.
The council also agreed to introduce a new tier to reward committee deputy chairs - they currently received the ordinary councillor's rate.
Deputy chairs will be rewarded by an additional 1 per cent on top of the councillor's basic pay of $70,949 - reduced from 1.5 per cent by Mr Robson's initiative.
Councillors stuck with the status quo of not supplying the mayor with a vehicle.
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Mr Crosby said they were not binding the new council to these pay rates. It could reapply to the Remuneration Authority on all the elements except the new basic rates for councillors and the mayor.
Mr Robson conceded his changes were about small numbers but it was the principle. He supported the deputy mayor's increase, saying the council needed to recognise the job's significant role. "I am happy to defend it."
His concern was that if the new council was not bound by the new pay margins for extra responsibilities, why ask for the small increases now.
Councillor Rick Curach backed keeping the increases as close as possible to the current remuneration.
"We have been very conservative on the discretionary funding."
Councillor Steve Morris said the larger increase in the deputy mayor's pay was not an endorsement of Mr Clout.