Humble salary part of giving back

By Lawrence Gullery

The directors of Hastings District Council's three public companies have salaries at the bottom end of the scale when compared with similar council-controlled organisations around the country.

But one of those directors, John Buck, believed most people would recognise it was just part of "putting something back into your community".

"I know what professional directors get paid but you can't compare it to this type of work," he said.

"You accept that it is not going to equate to commercial rates and that clearly for the time you have to put in it would be unattractive if you were doing it for anything else.

"I don't think any of the directors would even put an elementary consideration into what they might get paid, that's not why they do the work."

In his review of directors' fees, council chief financial officer Tony Gray said their rates needed to go up to ensure the public companies could retain and recruit high-quality people.

At its meeting last week the council agreed to a pay rise for the 2012-13 year for its seven independent directors.

It also recognised the extra level of commitment directors had to put in over the past year to make their companies successful.

The sole director of the Hastings District Holdings Company, Craig Waterhouse, will be paid $8000, an increase of $500 and the first pay rise since his appointment in 2009.

The holdings company monitored all of the council's company entities and director appointments.

Hastings District Properties' two directors will be paid $12,000 each, an increase of $1000. Its chairman, Peter Snelling, will be paid $23,000, an increase of $1000.

The company had been operating without a full-time executive, which meant directors and the chairman had been putting in extra hours and effort outside of board meetings.

The Flaxmere Village Centre Development and the Fitzroy Avenue Development are its current major projects which need greater attention.

The two directors of the Hawke's Bay Opera House will be paid $11,000 each, an increase of $1000.

Chairman Mr Buck will be paid $16,000, an increase of $1000.

The council's annual grant to the Opera House will continue to decrease from $604,000 in the current financial year to $203,000 in 2021-22. This means its directors will have to take a more aggressive approach towards generating additional income and this will also require more hours outside of board meetings.

"We are well ahead of our budget and down on costs, improving our position over the past 12 months," Mr Buck said.

"To get to the next level we've got to generate more dynamism. We do have a major announcement coming up which is just going to be phenomenal. And so we need to get more shows like the Flight of the Conchords premiere and fill up the Opera House," he said.

"We need to get top-class acts here so we don't have to go to Auckland or Wellington to see them, and we need to do that at a level that's acceptable to the community."

- Hawkes Bay Today

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