Councillors voting to give themselves a pay rise is sure to raise eyebrows and elicit a certain resentment among ratepayers, but think again- they actually deserve it.
Wellington City councillors have been in what could be described as the unfortunate position of voting to pocket more money twice in one term.
In fact, one of the first things they voted on as a freshly elected council in 2019 was how much they would get paid, along with every other council in the country.
But this is just a formality.
Elected members actually don't have a lot of say over what they earn because it's the Remuneration Authority that calls the shots.
The authority allocates a pool of money to each council. It is the total amount that must be paid in remuneration and is split between councillors.
It takes into account the size of the governance role, the average time required by an elected member on a council of a particular size, and a general comparison with parliamentary salaries.
Elected members do however have some power to decide how that money should be allocated among themselves. In Wellington City Council's case, it's mainly a flat structure of base salaries that each councillor gets.
There are a couple who get more than that depending on the positions they hold, like being the deputy mayor or a chairperson of a significant committee.
The second time Wellington City councillors voted to increase their salaries was more recently when one of their colleagues, Malcolm Sparrow, abruptly resigned due to a health scare.
With less than a year to go before local body elections they had the choice to either replace Sparrow, or split his salary among themselves.
The next highest polling candidate in Sparrow's ward, Peter Gilberd, said he was "unavailable" for the job.
So councillors made headlines again for giving themselves a pay rise, albeit unanimously unwanted around the table.
It's so unwanted that councillor Fleur Fitzsimons first challenged the Remuneration Authority on its rules in this situation and when that didn't work, she complained to the Regulations Review select committee.
The authority sets out that if a councillor's position becomes vacant or they take a leave of absence, a council doesn't have to reallocate the money in these temporary circumstances.
When a council decides not to fill the vacancy, then it has to be reallocated.
In my opinion, Fitzsimons has a reasonable case against accepting a pay rise. Arguably, a temporary leave of absence could be longer than the period in which a seat around the table is left empty pending local body elections.
This vote doesn't appear to be so cut and dried as the formality of allocating the pool of money at the beginning of the term, although the Remuneration Authority would beg to differ and the Regulations Review select committee decided not to investigate the complaint.
So why is the issue being so hotly pursued by councillors themselves when they get a 7.5 per cent pay rise and conveniently have the Remuneration Authority to blame for it?
Fitzsimons says the authority's decision has "opened councillors up to criticism not of their own making".
The whole point of the authority's allocation of remuneration pools is to protect councils from pressure to keep rates down by paying councillors less.
While that has been achieved, it still doesn't protect them from criticism. Frankly, people's ears prick up at "pay rise" and they disengage at "Remuneration Authority".
Councillor pay rises are inherently controversial. They're an easy target and people love to hate them.
It's a shame society appears to have such an allergic reaction to them.
The fight for better pay for local body politicians has made being a councillor a viable option for more people from different walks of life. It's wrong for such a position to be reserved for the rich.
Most of the time people just see clips of councillors squabbling around a big table, which hardly advocates for their case to be paid more.
But they don't just attend meetings and go home.
Being a councillor is not a 9-5 job, especially in the age of social media. They are contacted at all hours, expected to front up at various public meetings and events, and do their homework.
They don't have personal assistants to triage their emails or arrange their diaries.
A lot of their work is helping their constituents resolve issues like broken mirrors in public toilets, trees down over powerlines, grass that needs mowing in fields and reserves, or broken light bulbs in street lights.
These may seem like trivial issues, but they can make a significant difference to people's lives and, importantly, it all takes time.
Wellington City Councillors were getting paid $111,225 a year. With Sparrow's salary split between them, that will increase to $119,618 a year.
Considering the important role local government plays in our lives and for all that councillors should do, neither of those figures are unreasonable.
If you don't think they've earned their keep, you can always kick them out at next year's local body elections.
• Senior Wellington journalist Georgina Campbell's fortnightly column looks closely at issues in the capital.