Pay rates are being set for the Northland local government representatives set to take up their posts after the October election.

The most handsome pay packets go to Northland regional councillors, set to earn $66,417 in the 2016/17 year, though overall the mayor of Whangarei would be the best paid in Northland taking home $138,363, a 2 per cent increase on last year.

Base rates for councillors and mayors were foisted upon councils by the Remuneration Authority and corresponded to the number of constituents and council spend. But elected representatives had discretion when it came to rewarding themselves for additional duties, like the post of deputy mayor or committee chairs. This year, this bonus amount was equal to two full councillor salaries, compared with 1.5 as in previous years.

At NRC where the base councillor salary was $54,060, this meant another $108,120 to distribute, or not, at their discretion. Northland regional councillors opted last week to pay a "duties allowance" of 23 per cent on top of the $54,000 base salary, bringing it to $66,417. The deputy chair would earn $75,684, and the chair $115,719.

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NRC chairman Bill Shepherd said setting pay rates felt easier when it was being done for an incumbent council.

"It could be construed as us getting it for ourselves, but who knows which of us will get through to the next council?" he said.

The median wage in Northland is $20,900. Mr Shepherd, who worked between 50 and 60 hours a week for NRC, said this had not really been touched on during discussions around pay.

"The reality is the councillor's role carries a lot more responsibility than the average earner," he said.

"When you boil it down to an hourly rate there's people that get a heck of a lot more than councillors do."

Whangarei District Council was considering banking some of its discretionary spend of $95,472 (two WDC councillor salaries). This would be decided at its next meeting.

Kaipara's eight incumbent councillors would earn $26,855, with an additional $5371 for a committee chair, and an additional $26,855 for the deputy mayor. The mayor would get $93,224.

Far North District Council were yet to release their proposed pay rates, which they would discuss at their May 5 meeting. All councils were required to report back to the authority by May 16.