Some of Tauranga City's newly elected members look set to reap pay rises of more than $40,000.
At the first meeting of the city's new councillors today , Tauranga's elected members were divided on how best to allocate $1,105,920 of remuneration funds.
Elected members are paid from a set pool of money, the amount of which is designated to councils by the Remuneration Authority, and councillors can decide how that total amount is divided between members, but cannot change the total pool amount.
The new council voted today on how to distribute this funding, resulting in large raises for some.
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Under the proposed changes, the deputy mayor will receive a $40,973 annual pay rise, a committee chairperson will get a $37,475 increase, a deputy chairperson is expected to receive an increase of $25,783, and a councillor with no additional responsibilities will get a $14,093 rise.
The mayoral salary of $159,431 will increase by $7069 a year but this remuneration sits outside the pool proposed in the report.
While some applauded the move, others questioned its rationale and fairness.
Powell justified the pay raises saying it was worth recognising those councillors working hard to better the city.
"These leadership roles of this magnitude should be rewarded. Ditto those from external committees.
"It's about good governance."
Under the proposal, Powell also received a mayoral vehicle of his choice up to a budget yet to be decided upon.
Councillor John Robson said he was surprised by Powell's approach, given the new mayor had campaigned to bring unity to the council but was virtually segregating councillors via their pay scale.
"I've always been of the view that councillors are equal. The work of a chair and a hard-working councillor is [not that different]. Nothing that could really justify these margins," Robson said.
The proposed pay rises mean councillor Larry Baldock, who is also deputy mayor and was today appointed chairman of the Urban Form and Transport Committee, will receive only the deputy mayor remuneration despite the additional role.
Baldock said Tauranga was a fast-growing city "with many issues" and rewarding the hard workers was fair.
"I believe the councillors work very hard and they have significant roles in what they do ... It's not apples and apples around this table. I think the recommendation is reasonable."
However, new councillor Andrew Hollis echoed Robson's sentiment, saying creating a hierarchy was fraught with issues and "overall we should be treated equally".
"We all got elected equally. We are all on the same committees of some particular area. We will all have paperwork and agendas, the workload doesn't change. The actual workload is reading all the documents and making all of those views."
Hollis said the money should mostly be distributed evenly among councillors.
Councillor Bill Grainger shared his concern, saying each councillor had different strengths and experience, which was not necessarily being recognised in the proposal.
Councillor Steve Morris, who was appointed chairman of the Policy Committee, proposed a reward scheme via a percentage scale instead: Offering the deputy mayor a 30 per cent increase in pay, a committee chairperson 20 per cent and a deputy chairperson 10 per cent.
He was joined by councillors Dawn Kiddie, Robson, Grainger and Hollis in opposing the motion but was overruled by Powell, Baldock, Kelvin Clout, Jako Abrie, Tina Salisbury and Heidi Hughes who voted in favour. All of those who voted in favour were also appointed chairpeople or deputies of committees today.
The proposal will now go to the Remuneration Authority for approval, which is expected to be made next month. Once approved, the remuneration will be backdated to today's motion.
The Remuneration Authority
- An independent body set up by Parliament to handle the remuneration of key office holders such as judges, Members of Parliament and local government representatives.
- The authority's role is to set the remuneration – salary, fees, certain allowances, superannuation - for these people.
- How remuneration is distributed is decided upon by office holders such as elected council members.
Source: Remuneration Authority / Tauranga City Council