Councillors reject attendance-based salary

By Anne-Marie Emerson of the Wanganui Chronicle -
Wanganui District Councillor Rob Vinsen recommended councillors' salaries should be linked to meeting attendance. A majority of his colleagues disagreed. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle
Wanganui District Councillor Rob Vinsen recommended councillors' salaries should be linked to meeting attendance. A majority of his colleagues disagreed. Photo / Wanganui Chronicle

Wanganui District councillors have rejected a salary model that would see their pay based on attendance at meetings.

At yesterday's full council meeting, councillors voted to keep their pay by salary only, rather than a split between a salary and a meeting allowance.

Councillors receive their remuneration as a fixed salary. Councillors with no extra responsibilities receive $25,581 per annum.

Councillors were given the option of considering whether to retain a smaller salary along with an allowance for every meeting attended.

Councillor Rob Vinsen moved a recommendation that the council switch to a split salary-allowance model.

"Being a councillor comes with responsibilities, and the first one is that you should attend as many meetings as possible.

"It's a basic responsibility to the ratepayer," Mr Vinsen said.

Councillor Hamish McDouall disagreed, saying he was concerned the issue had become personal, referring to Councillor Michael Laws' poor attendance at meetings. In the first year of this electoral term, Mr Laws attended 10 of a total 36 meetings. He did not attend yesterday's meeting.

"There are many reasons why people have difficulty attending all meetings. I was late today because I had child care issues. Councillor [Clive] Solomon has a busy job as a surgeon. Councillor [Allan] Anderson was away for some time because he was ill. Are we going to penalise these people?" Mr McDouall said.

Councillor Nicki Higgie said council needed to ensure it was as easy as possible for employed people to stand for council, and an attendance-based pay structure might dissuade them from doing so. She also noted that more than half her council work took place away from the council table.

After some discussion, Mr Vinsen's recommendation was put to the vote. Only Mr Vinsen and Councillor Ray Stevens voted for it.

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