$100,000 salary disparity across Hawke's Bay's elected officials

By Victoria White

6 comments
Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule rakes in the region's biggest salary for elected council members.
Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule rakes in the region's biggest salary for elected council members.

For the roles they were elected to fill this weekend, members of local government across the region can expect salaries between $21,630, to $127,684.

Every year the remuneration of elected members across the country are reviewed and set by the Remuneration Authority - a statutory body appointed by the Government.

The salary councillors, mayors, and the Hawke's Bay Regional Council chair receive depends on the council's place on the size index - the population served by the council, and the council's expenditure - and a job sizing exercise.

Local Government New Zealand (LGNZ) president, and re-elected Hastings Mayor, Lawrence Yule said although there had been some unease around salary disparity in the past, this had been resolved.

This had partially been because mayors of smaller councils were underpaid, however, since this was resolved around six years ago, Mr Yule had not heard of many grievances on the matter.

Under the authority's 2016/2017 determination, Mr Yule will receive the highest annual salary in the region for his role as Hastings mayor, of $127,684.

Although he said his salary did sound like a lot, "not trying to belittle it, but a lot of people [at council] are paid a lot more than I am".

He estimated he put around 50 hours a week into the role, adding for mayors, the role was not just time spent in the office.

In the past, Mr Yule has also received a salary of around $80,000 for his LGNZ role.

The Hastings district councillors are also the highest paid, with a salary of $41,106. Those with additional responsibilities will receive a higher amount - $47,271 for portfolio leaders, and $53,436 for standing committee chairpersons.

Mr Yule's deputy will receive $61,659.

Unopposed Napier mayor Bill Dalton receives $123,872, and the councillor he chooses as deputy will pocket $47,300.

Those seated around the Napier City Council table will receive $39,270 per annum, with committee chairs getting $45,101, and deputy committee chairs $42,000.

Like other elected members around the country, Mr Dalton said his councillors did not do the job for the money, but for their community.

Their time commitment dedicated to the role meant councillors definitely earned their salary.

Mr Yule and Mr Dalton are the region's only mayors who also have full private use of a car.

At Central Hawke's Bay District Council, first-time-mayor Alex Walker will receive an annual salary of $82,761, with her deputy receiving $35,000.

The newly-elected councillors receive $23,278 - however, members of hearings, and district licensing committees also receive an additional hourly rate for meetings convened under council policy, or statutory requirement.

Because of the amount of time devoted to the role, re-elected Ruataniwha ward councillor Kelly Annand said the salary helped compensate for time spent away from family.

"Councillors work very hard and I think you certainly earn your money."

She added, "when I first ran for council I didn't even realise they got paid, so that was a nice surprise".

In Wairoa, re-elected Craig Little receives $71,946 per annum, and his deputy $30,282. Their councillors' annual salaries will be $21,630, with committee chairs receiving $23,690.

Former deputy mayor Denise Eaglesome-Karekare said although Wairoa councillors received the lowest salary, "that's what fits our community".

"It's not really a problem, I for one didn't stand for council for the remuneration."

Across the board, members of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council receive the highest salary.

Whoever is elected chair will receive $113,094, and their deputy chair $61,838. The annual salaries range from $49,470 for councillors with no extra responsibility, to $61,838 for committee chairs, and deputy chairs.

Former chairman Fenton Wilson said although councillors did not set their salaries, it had always been a divisive issue.

"The regional councillors are paid very well based on the fact that they cover the whole region," he said, adding they dealt with complex issues, and responsibilities.

At the Tararua District Council, Mayor Tracey Collis' annual salary will be $86,876, with her deputy receiving $34,297.

Councillors' salary will be $24,498, with members of the forestry, and members of the audit and risk committees receiving $26,998.

Although their elections are held at the same time, the salaries for those elected to the Hawke's Bay District Health Board are fixed by Cabinet, based on recommendations from the State Services Commission.

Current annual remuneration rates for the chair is $42,000, with the deputy receiving $25,500.

Members receive $20,400. Members might also receive rates fee for sitting on board advisory committees.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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