Northland councillors and community board members could soon be following Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's lead and take pay cuts.
The Remuneration Authority, which sets their pay levels, is working to potentially impose an up to 20 per cent, six-month reduction in pay for Northland's 60 elected local government representatives.
The move comes after new legislation allowing the pay cuts was passed last Thursday
Ardern in April pledged she and other senior government politicians would take a 20 per cent salary cut for six months in response to the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The PM's move led to immediate calls for Northland's local government politicians to do the same, but Remuneration Authority chairwoman Dame Fran Wilde said at the time such cuts were not possible under current legislation.
Wilde confirmed this week the authority would now able to set short-term specific reductions for affected Northland local government politicians, with cuts likely to be announced "within the next couple of weeks".
Northland Mayoral Forum chair Dr Jason Smith said Northland's councils were open to authority guidance on their remuneration following the change.
The forum represents Northland's four elected council leaders – Kaipara Mayor Smith, Far North Mayor John Carter, Whangārei Mayor Sheryl Mai and Northland Regional Council chair Penny Smart.
"We're pleased to have direction on remuneration of elected members and we're happy to follow it," Smith said.
Wilde said she would be in touch with other elected representatives in Northland's four councils about the pay reductions.
"We will be writing to those affected, but as usual, the choice is ours."
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State Services Minister Chris Hipkins said there was significant nationwide variation in pay levels across the various roles for which the remuneration authority set salaries.
"The authority will have the discretion to determine which reductions may be appropriate, and if they feel it appropriate, apply different deductions to different roles," Hipkins said.
The potential pay cuts have brought a mixed response from Northland ratepayers.
Mangawhai Residents and Ratepayers Association chair and former KDC councillor Bruce Rogan said Northland's elected representatives should take the cuts as a gesture to show they were sharing the pain everybody in the region was suffering due to Covid-19.
Ruatangata Public Hall Society secretary and WDC/NRC ratepayer Elfreda Berryman said a pay cut was needed, at least in part to contribute to reducing the size of ongoing rates increases, including those proposed for the coming 2020/2021 financial year.
"Everybody has had to take a reduction in wages and everything, why should they not. Doing so would be a show of solidarity with the community," Berryman said.
She believed the cut should be 10 per cent for six months.
Maungaturoto Residents Association chair and KDC/NRC ratepayer Terri Donaldson was not in favour of the pay cut.
Donaldson said Northland councillors were not paid huge amounts for what they did, in contrast to their counterparts in Auckland, where minimum allowed remuneration for Auckland Council politicians is more than $100,000 each, with Mayor Phil Goff getting almost $300,000 a year.
Current individual remuneration for Northland's 60 elected local government leaders ranges from $156,000 to $43,487 each for 42 Northland councillors and $31,273 to $13,043 each for 18 community board members:
Northland councillors' individual earnings range is: Whangārei District Council (WDC) $156,000-$54,702, FNDC $155,000-$65,000, KDC $119,000-$43,487 and NRC $126,000-$71,861.
Northland's three community boards are all part of FNDC. Their members' individual earnings are: Bay of Islands-Whangaroa community board $31,723-$15,637, Te Hiku community board $27,365-$13,682 and Kaikohe Hokianga community board $26,806-$13,043.