Councillor pay rise looms | poll

SINGLE-MINDED: Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore said he would be “horrified” to see a hike in allowances for councillors if a merger with Dungog goes ahead. Picture: Marina Neil
Nanjing Night Net

COUNCILLORS could be in line for a pay riseif proposed amalgamations between Port Stephens and Newcastle,and Dungog and Maitlandgo ahead.

In financialmodelling for the stategovernment,KPMG made the assumption that “all newly elected councillors (metro and regional) will receive a fee of $30,000.”

“The $30,000 is acknowledged as an assumption and is based on the need to remunerate for potentially increased responsibilities associated with bigger councils,” a KPMG spokesperson said.

The final decision will be made by the local government remuneration tribunal, which sets maximum and minimum rates of pay for councillors across nine categories each year.

However followingcouncil amalgamations inQueensland in 2008, the state’s remuneration tribunal permittedcouncillors and mayors to adopt sizableincreases in pay.

Newcastle councillors are currently the best paid in the region, receiving$25,574 this financial year. Port Stephens and Maitland councillorswill receive $18,380 andDungog councillors will take home$8,330.

In its submission to the state government’s delegate, Wyong council argued councillors should receivean allowance of $50,000.

Mayor Doug Eaton said anything less wouldn’t be a“fair” sum for the time and workload involved, and would restrict the role to retireesor people with flexible working hours such as public servants and the self-employed.

Maitland Mayor Peter Blackmore was staunchlyopposed to any post-amalgamation fee increase. Hedescribed the idea of a $30,000 allowance for councillors as “absolutely ridiculous.”

“We’re not here for the money. You’re doing it to represent the community. I’d be absolutely horrified if there were councillors that accepted that,” he said.

Mayor of Port Stephens Bruce MacKenziesaid some councillors were “probably worth” $30,000 but for others “there’s no way in the wide world they are worth that amount of money.”

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