The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union has hit out at Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick after she shut down a discussion about councillor pay rises at a council meeting yesterday.
At the meeting, councillor Mark Gould tried to raise the issue of elected members' remuneration as an urgent item.
Gould started: "Concerning the salaries for the councillors ..." before councillor Charles Sturt made a point of order.
"Councillor Gould is going to raise the issue regarding the payment of the increase that was declared by the higher salaries commission of which we have no control over.
"I've tried these tactics in the past to try and prevent us receiving it and been turned down because it is a legislative requirement. So I think he's out of order in raising it today."
Chadwick said remuneration wasn't an urgent item and had already been paid out on August 1.
"I don't accept the item of business."
When Gould asked if it was official council policy for a recommendation on remuneration not to be forwarded to the council, Chadwick said that was "absolutely right".
"If councillors want to discuss it, that's a green room discussion, it's certainly not a debatable discussion at the council table."
Taxpayers' Union executive director Jordan Williams has since said Chadwick's decision not to allow discussion was, in the union's opinion, "outrageous" as remuneration was of "serious interest" to ratepayers.
"If our elected representatives are not allowed to even discuss decisions on how our money is used, how can we expect accountability?
"The mayor's excuse for blocking discussion – that the council has no responsibility for Remuneration Authority decisions – is laughable.
"We say that if MPs can reject a pay freeze to reflect pressure on nurses and teachers, councillors can do the same for the poor old ratepayer."
In response to the Taxpayers' Union's comments, Chadwick said in a written statement the subject was not an urgent item and the meeting was not the appropriate forum for the discussion.
"As I also said, if councillors did wish to discuss it we could do so outside of the meeting. That would be the appropriate way to deal with it."