Councillors reject 2.5% pay rise
CLARENCE Valley councillors have voted to freeze their pay for the coming financial year, but it was a close run thing.
Cr Jason Kingsley moved a motion to turn down 2.5% pay increases for the mayor and councillors and after some spirited debate it took the casting vote of Mayor Richie Williamson to get the motion over the line.
The council was considering a staff report recommending it approve a Local Government Remuneration Tribunal report which recommended the increase.
But Cr Kingsley said the council's weak financial position forced him to move a motion to freeze councillors' fees.
"We have roads in disrepair and can't find money to fix assets," he said. "I'm sure in the public's view a 2.5% increase for councillors would not be looked on favourably."
Cr Andrew Baker disagreed. He said councillor pay was not linked to performance.
"I take an alternate view that we should be paying councillors what they're really worth," he said.
He said councillors' responsibilities were increasing and not recognising and not reflecting this in their pay scales would lead to ratepayers getting less value for money.
Cr Jeremy Challacombe said the "pay peanuts get monkeys" argument did not apply to people serving as councillors.
"Most people who serve on council do it because they feel they have something to offer," he said.
He said if the council wanted to raise rates and send out a message there had to be tough measures to get things done, then it had to take the high moral ground and refuse the rise.
Cr Margaret McKenna said the increase was only small and helped cover the increase in expenses councillors incurred.
"The work we do is val-ued by the public," she said.
"I've never heard people say we should not take an increase of $8 or $9 a week when costs are going up all the time."
With deputy mayor Craig Howe not in attendance, the vote was tied at four each. Mayor Richie Williamson, who voted for the motion, used his casting vote to approve the motion.
COUNCIL HAS KNOCKED BACK THESE FEE RISES:
- Councillors $17,490 to $17,930
- Mayor $35,225 to $36,102
- Deputy Mayor $2935 to $3008.