For love or money - that was the nub of a debate for Whanganui councillors this week.

The Remuneration Authority sets the pay scales for local authorities across the country at July 1 of each local body election year, but consults with councils before having the final say on how much mayors and councillors will be paid.

On Tuesday, the majority of Whanganui's councillors agreed on recommending to the authority an increase of 2.5 per cent for their work.

And they also agreed that an allowance to councillors (a total of $63,000) for extra duties would not be allocated. This fund is usually doled out when councillors are involved in extra meetings.


It was decided that until council resolved its governance structure it would "prudent" to keep the current structure which has been funded in its 2016-17 annual plan.

Councillors Helen Craig and Martin Visser argued for a higher rate but were outvoted.

Mrs Craig said a reasonable remuneration was important to attract quality candidates to serve on council and she did not believe the authority "had come to grips" with what was required of councillors.

"A low remuneration level means people will see the job as something they can't undertake," she said.

"It restricts those who will be attracted to serve, and that precludes younger people and business people."

Mr Visser said the suggested figures were "blatantly unfair".

He said a broader range of people needed to be attracted to serve on council and a higher pay rate recognised that.

But Deputy Mayor Hamish McDouall said Whanganui had "one of the most vibrant councils" and it included four members who ran their own businesses and others in fulltime employment.

He acknowledged councillors were underpaid but said increasing the scale was simply "an impost on ratepayers".

"And being a councillor is not a fulltime job. Part of what we do is a pure drive for public service," he said.


These are the pay scales to mayor and councillors after the 2.5 per cent increase:

Mayor - $110,000

Deputy Mayor - $39,848

Councillor with portfolio (8) - $36,260

Councillor without portfolio (3) - $31,878

Rural community board chair - $10,660

Rural community board member - $5330