Editorial: $74,000 for 22 hours a bit rich

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Are we getting value for money from our elected city councillors?

It's a fair question, especially when it comes to the hours Tauranga City Council member Rick Curach is working for the rather generous annual salary of $74,171. The Bay of Plenty Times broke the story this week of how Cr Curach admitted working an average of 22 hours a week.

This equates to about $65 an hour.

Other councillors report working higher hours, with Murray Guy being the closest to Cr Curach at 30 hours.

We carried the full list of salaries and hours the councillors say they work on the front page on Wednesday.

Based on what they have publicly declared, I have no problem with Mayor Stuart Crosby.

He reports working up to 70 hours for his $136,700 salary, which is plenty of bang for our bucks.

His role is one that carries much more responsibility, and interaction with the community and other leaders.

Cr Bill Grainger, at 45-50 hours, also makes the grade.

In my view, if you earn more than $70,000 you need to be doing much more than the standard, if not out-of-date, 40-hour week.

Fifty hours should be a given.

So, based on that, Cr Guy's 30 hours are unacceptable.

Larry Baldock, Tony Christiansen and Catherine Stewart also need to be putting in more hours.

But Cr Curach takes the proverbial cake.

He says he has tried to be truthful but I would expect nothing less from him.

His hours are a joke. He says that when he was first elected on to the council in 2001, his pay was about $30,000 and people did not expect it to be a fulltime job.

But things have changed since then. Our councillors are now earning much bigger pay packets, and need to be putting in the hours to reflect that.

These admissions and their timing are important.

The city council is undergoing massive restructuring, announced yesterday, which will ultimately result in at least 30 jobs being axed.

I wonder how these affected staff feel reading about the hours their elected members say they're doing.

Cr Curach was reported yesterday as saying he was surprised at how little backlash he had received.

But he's not off the hook.

A survey of 50 Tauranga residents, published today, reveals deep resentment over his admission and not one of them thought it was acceptable. There have also been comments online.

Cr Curach needs to do a proper week's work, as does Cr Guy.

Next year is local body election year and voters will have the final say on this matter.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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