While the region's mayors are more than happy with their pay packets, there are concerns what councillors are paid is not enough to attract a range of candidates, especially in smaller districts.
The latest Ratepayers Report - complied by the Taxpayers' Union - reveals the annual pay packets of elected officials, with a significant variance in what councillors across the region are paid.
On average a Whanganui councillor is paid $40,182 and the mayoral pay packet is $138,000.
South Taranaki councillors get $30,285 on average with $124,769 for the mayor, while Rangitīkei sits at $25,967 for councillors and $117,068 for the mayor.
Ruapehu councillors get even less, at an average of just $24,512 while the mayor earns $105,773.
Unlike the salary of council chief executives which are decided by councillors themselves, their own pay packets are determined by the Remuneration Authority.
But while the region's mayors are generally happy with their pay, there are concerns the pay of councillors isn't necessarily representative of the work they do.
Josh Chandulal-MacKay is Whanganui District Council's youngest councillor at just 26.
Since 2019, he has worked as a councillor and district health board member full-time, relying solely on his council and DHB salary.
"I was [doing other work] part-time... but I was finding it too difficult balancing that role with my obligations as a councillor," he said.
Chandulal-MacKay said he worried the reward for being a councillor was not significant enough to attract a wide and representative portion of society.
"You need a lot of flexibility, and you need to be available at all hours of every day.
"If your living expenses require the type of paid employment required to look after a family, it's difficult to find something that allows you to balance both your work obligations and carrying out your role as a councillor."
Chandulal-MacKay said councillors in smaller districts were worse off.
"In Whanganui, we're at around full-time minimum wage equivalent, so that's a little more sustainable."
New Zealand Taxpayers' Union Campaign Manager Louis Houlbrooke said being a councillor in larger centres was a fulltime job, while those on smaller councils were "in theory" working part-time.
"Often 20 hours per week is what's suggested," Houlbrooke said.
"What we have observed is that different councillors will put either far more or far less into their role.
"For those councillors who are devoting all of their working time to the role, you could say those salaries are quite measly."
Houlbrooke said it was easy for councillors to "fly under the radar" in smaller centres.
"You can attend the meetings and tick the boxes in terms of your presence, without actually making contributions or being across the issue.
"In practice, we know the amount of sweat and effort they put into things varies so much."
Rangitīkei councillor Brian Carter said "you certainly don't get rich" in the role.
Carter works full-time as a sole-trading upholsterer in Bulls, alongside his role as both a district councillor and a volunteer firefighter.
"The number of hours you put in compared to what you're earning, if I was doing it full time I'd be better off on the dole to be honest."
Carter said with councillors' salaries based on a variety of factors including population, sometimes the actual workload compared to the pay cheque got lost in the equation.
"I'd love it to be more. A lot of it works on population, and we're about 15,000 people in Rangitīkei. But you're still doing the same amount of work as what Whanganui council is doing, or are they meeting more?"
That was a view shared by Rangitīkei mayor Andy Watson, who stressed that while he was more than comfortable on his mayoral salary of just over $117,000, the remuneration of councillors was out of whack.
"It is a very significant commitment they give, and there's a reputation commitment they give as well. As more and more stuff comes out of Wellington with some fairly big decisions to be made, councillors get a constant level of inquiry around their status and view."
"For us in particular, with $25K on average, if you get a northern ward councillor to attend a half-day session in Marton, they are effectively giving away their day. It becomes closer to a full-time gig."
Watson said that while it was his view that no one runs for council for the cash, most councillors work hard for little reward.
"Councillors obviously commit to the role because of the community interest and their desire to move their community forward," he said.
"But there are harsh realities of life. If you're a young councillor with children, you're going to have to go to your employer asking them to if you can do the job on their time, or you have to limit your own income."
Whanganui district councillor Kate Joblin felt her renumeration was "reasonable recompense" for the work she put in.
"The time that council takes can be huge, but I don't think any of us do it for the money," Joblin said.
"There are different responsibilities that come with different councillors.
"For example, I chair the strategy and finance committee, as well as a couple of other things.
"There is a base fee, and if you have additional responsibilities that goes on top."
All current Whanganui District Councillors did their bit, Joblin said.
"In Whanganui we've had the experience before where all councillors don't necessarily pull their weight, but I think this council is very well served."
Ruapehu district councillor Elijah Pue said he thought $24,512 per annum wasn't enough.
"Naturally, I can't live off that, so I have another job that takes up a lot of my time," Pue said.
More money to do the same amount of work wasn't what he was suggesting, he said.
"If the remuneration was to be slightly higher I could commit more time to it.
"I'm lucky that my employer is very supportive of me being on council, but not everyone has that.
Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall agreed, but acknowledged at the same time that the salary of his councillors is substantially higher than that of councillors in the likes of the Rangitīkei.
"I'm happy to talk about this, because when I was first elected as a councillor I was working as a lawyer, and I just couldn't do it. I had to drop down to part-time. Once you're elected, you put all of your energy into council, and my work as a lawyer started to slide.
"I have always thought there needs to be a boost there, but luckily it's not a political decision. The remuneration authority does a good job, for the most part. They've altered the formula a wee bit, so I agree with that."
Ultimately, McDouall said, the amount of work that councillors put in compared to what they come out with at the other end just doesn't add up.
"I'm paid very well and I don't seek any further remuneration, but some of our councillors work so hard for what would be a good average wage, but really, some of our councillors are working well beyond a 40-hour week."