A Hastings district councillor says that council attendance is not the only indication of how hard individual councillors work, without necessarily being paid, citing the latest 10-year review of the Hastings District Plan as an example.

Mick Lester was chairman of the district plan hearings committee and said he chaired 64 days of hearings, including dealing with 29,800 pages of evidence which had to be prepared for, heard and then decided on.

"As chair of that, I was there for all but three days when I had to be away for something else.

"The hearings committee worked their butts off over that period of time - certain councillors on that committee did an incredible amount of work, and we did much of it for practically nothing."


The other councillors on the committee were George Lyons, Cynthia Bowers, Kevin Watkins and Peter Kay, as well as representatives from the Maori joint committee at certain times.

Mayor Lawrence Yule confirmed that the hearings committee was entitled to $13,800 based on $120 per day for the chair and $100 for each other member day.

"Because the pool ran out before the end of the year they completed the final hearings unpaid. This amounted to $7500 unpaid time between them."

Mr Yule said the councillors involved could have suspended the hearings for four months because they were not being paid, but decided to carry on.

"To their credit they decided to do it for nothing as there were issues people wanted resolved, so they forfeited that income to progress that," he said, with particular reference to the variations to the industrial land on Omahu Rd and Irongate Rd.

"Independent commissioners could have been brought in, but that would have cost a lot more money."

Along with Mr Lester, however, Mr Yule approached the remuneration authority to look at the issue of payment when it came to such complex RMA matters.

"As president of Local Government New Zealand, I have met with the remuneration authority to say I did not think it was fair."

Under the Local Government Act, the Remuneration Authority sets the base remuneration for all elected members of local authorities including community boards. It also sets allowances and expenses.