The mayor is the city's top job. But do they receive a top paycheck? Zizi Sparks takes a look at just how much Bay of Plenty district and regional councillors and mayors are set to earn and how that stacks up with nationwide figures.
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Bay of Plenty regional and district councillors are among the 10 highest paid in the country.
With a salary of $166,500, Tauranga's mayor, the newly-elected Tenby Powell, is the fifth-equal highest earner among district and city mayors after the mayors of Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington City and Hamilton and tied with Dunedin.
Tauranga is the fifth biggest city in the country.
A base salary of $78,050 makes Tauranga City councillors the fourth-highest earners behind those elected to Wellington City Council, Christchurch City Council and Auckland Council.
The data, as at July this year, also places them above Bay of Plenty Regional councillors who have a base salary of $54,525, the fourth-highest among the nation's 11 regional councils.
Bay of Plenty Regional Council's chairman takes home a healthy $146,500 salary.
The incomes of Rotorua District councillors and mayor are nothing to frown at.
Councillors' base salary of $49,426 places them in ninth while mayor Steve Chadwick's $152,500 salary makes her the 11th highest earning mayor alongside Palmerston North and New Plymouth mayors.
Meanwhile, remuneration for Western Bay of Plenty elected members is in the middle of the pack. The mayor, Garry Webber, will earn $136,500 and councillors have base salaries of $32,959.
The independent Remuneration Authority determines elected members' salaries.
Louis Houlbrooke of the Taxpayer's Union said pay rates for elected members could distract from more serious costs among the general staff.
"At Tauranga City Council, for example, 138 staff earn over $100,000. These salaries ... are an obvious place to make savings," he said.
"It's hard to say exactly how much a councillor or mayor should be paid. This will ultimately be determined by ratepayers, who will tend to judge their local politicians' salaries against the quality of the services they receive."
Houlbrooke said the issue was that council salaries were determined by the Remuneration Authority, which was not necessarily familiar with local circumstances.
"Just recently we've seen the authority give councils the right to pay childcare allowances for councillors with children. These 'top-ups' can sneakily push up salaries higher than the reported figures."
Local Government New Zealand vice-president Stuart Crosby, who has also been re-elected to the Bay of Plenty Regional Council unopposed, said it was difficult to develop a formula that was fair and reasonable for all councils.
"The Remuneration Authority has constantly struggled because New Zealand is so diverse. Different councils require different time commitments."
Crosby believed larger metropolitan councillors like in Auckland, Wellington, Tauranga and Christchurch, were well-paid but that was not always the case with rural and provincial councils.
"That can be a barrier for people to stand," he said.
"It's quite difficult to be in employment [while elected]. It is virtually impossible; your time requirements during a week are really varied."
He said the Remuneration Authority looked at multiple factors when setting salaries including population, asset value and growth projection.
He said while members of the public had varied views on whether elected members were paid too much or not enough, he believed the general community could expect a few key things.
"[They] should expect good engagement, accountability, responsibility and collective responsibility. Everybody taking responsibility for a decision whether they agree with it or not. Not undermining democratic decisions.
"You can oppose during the debate but don't undermine it outside, the community sees that and they don't like it."
Grace Road and Neighbourhood Residents Association chairman Phil Green said he was fine with the remuneration elected members received as long as they acted for the ratepayers.
"I know that the councillor figure is the bottom line without the committee or extra duties and ancillary salary additions.
"As a mayor or councillor, you are expected to give up all your business positions and supposedly income as well.
"With taking up office, there is the expectation that you're in "office" 24/7 so you do earn every cent of those dollars."
Green said there was an expectation that elected members would be leaders.
Claire Mahon, a member of Rotorua advocacy group Evolve, said it was important elected members were adequately compensated.
"To ensure that the roles attract people with the skills to do the job and to ensure diversity in decision-making."
Mahon said members needed to be paid at a level that reflected the decision-making and responsibility which comes with the role but wouldn't comment on what that level might be.
Mahon said the role was viewed as part-time for some as they had to supplement their income.
"We don't want only candidates who have another source of income which gives them the privilege to dedicate much of their time to meet with the community."
Speaking about Tauranga City Council remuneration Phil Brown, chairman of the Papamoa Residents and Ratepayers Association, said being an effective local councillor was a full-time job.
"I think the payment a councillor is given should include an allowance for a full-time personal secretary as well.
"The present TCC councillor salary package is sufficient, but it should have added a secretary allowance of say $45,000 per annum."
Rotorua District Residents and Ratepayers secretary Reynold Macpherson, who ran for mayor in 2016 and 2019 and was elected a councillor this term, believed mayors, councillors and community board members' salaries were "broadly proportionate to the populations they serve", but the regional council chairman's was not.
"The chairman of the Bay of Plenty Regional Council, accounting to a population of 267,741 residents, especially when compared to Tauranga city's 131,500 and Rotorua District's 72,500, should be paid significantly more compared to city and district mayors."
Macpherson wanted to see the remuneration paid to chief executives and senior officials in each jurisdiction.
"Like mayors, they are all full-time employees, whereas board members are regarded as being the equivalent of half-time appointments. Remunerations should be seen to be equitable."
Other Bay of Plenty elected members slot into the bottom half of the pack.
Councillors from Kawerau, Ōpōtiki, Whakatāne and Taupō earn between $17,680 and $34,747 while the mayors earn between $92,500 and $134,000.
Kawerau's councillors' base salary is second-lowest, only higher than Chatham Islands councillors.
The Western Bay of Plenty Regional Council and Rotorua District Council both also have community boards.
Board chairs earn between $5827 and $18,773 while board members earn between $2914 and $9387.
The Bay of Plenty and Lakes District Health Board chairman or woman will earn between $28,220 and $48,845 while the deputy will earn between $17,638 and $30,488.
Members will earn between $14,110 and $24,390 and are paid additional fees for belonging to statutory advisory committees.