WE SAY: Want more from our councillors? Pay them more
IT WAS interesting this week to see the response to two stories posted onto the Daily Examiner's website.
Initially we ran a story about the council voting on a recommendation to give the councillors a 2.5% pay increase. That prompted a large number of comments from readers, most scathing in their criticism of the proposal.
Then late on Tuesday afternoon we ran a new story after the councillors voted to knock back the pay rise - the second year in a row they have done so.
READ THE STORY: Council votes against pay rises
And although the comments didn't flow so freely, there were still people wanting to criticise the councillors.
Councillors are fair game for criticism, and we get to pass the ultimate judgment on them every four years at the ballot box. But criticism of the amount they get paid is a bit - excuse the pun - rich.
The mayor will continue to be paid $36,102 per year, and the other councillors will get $17,930. The deputy mayor is entitled to an extra $3008.
For the commitment expected of our councillors, in my opinion those figures do not add up to a pay packet. They are little more than an allowance.
A year on the most basic level of Newstart allowance would get them nearly $14,000, so councillors certainly aren't getting rich at our expense.
Basically we are treating them much like amateurs were in sporting days gone by.
They are receiving little more than expenses for the job they do.
I'm in the camp that thinks councillors in NSW aren't getting paid nearly enough.
Queensland treats the issue much differently.
By comparison, the Southern Downs Regional Council surrounding Warwick in rural Queensland has a population of 33,573 and its mayor receives $117,523 per year, the deputy mayor gets $73,452 and other councillors get $62,434.
What those extra dollars buy you is extra accountability and extra responsibility, and that is what the critics seem to be looking for.
If we want more from our councillors, it's time we were offering them more in return.