Pay councillors based on attendance - Craig

By Zaryd Wilson

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Helen Craig
Helen Craig

Mayoral candidate Helen Craig has called for an attendance-based pay system for Whanganui district councillors.

A first-term councillor, she says people expect councillors to attend meetings and wants a system of pay for those who attend meetings debated by the next council.

"The public is looking for accountability. Obviously some councillors aren't able to attend everything, and there are some major gaps in the attendance."

Mrs Craig said there needed to be a mechanism to reward and encourage attendance.
"Any job you get paid for when you attend - this would be one of the few jobs that you get paid no matter what," she said.

"When we bring this in, it will help to raise the reputation of council and I will be bringing this idea to the table."

However, current deputy mayor Hamish McDouall - who is also standing for mayor in the October election - does not agree with pay based on attendance.

He said there was more to being a councillor than attending meetings.

"But it would be my expectation that you commit to attending because otherwise you are just doing half your job," he said.

Mr McDouall said service should be the incentive but he was happy to have a discussion about pay.

He said the issue was not straight-forward.

"You can't predict when a relative might fall ill or when you might fall ill. We've got to have some flexibility around the reasons.

"There is a component of being a councillor which has a meeting attendance aspect to it. But, frankly, it can't be the sole basis for how you remunerate councillors."

Meanwhile, Andy Jarden, also running for the mayoralty, said he supported attendance-based pay and wanted to have the debate.

"With some of the attendance ... you wonder why they stood in the first place," he said.
Mr Jarden said while there would be occasions councillors couldn't attend, they should be attending at least 90 per cent of meetings.

"If councillors aren't attending 85 per cent of meetings, then how can they be informed. You won't pick it all up just from the papers."

The attendance figures for the current council for the past three years have Jack Bullock bringing up the rear, having attended just 48 out of 80-plus meetings.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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