Slash and burn: Dom Post talks up councillor pay cuts

The Dom Post reports that Mayor Celia Wade-Brown may cut councillors pay but also give each councillor at least one portfolio. However, WCC Watch thinks this may mean some councillors will effectively get two pay increases in one year (March and November 2010).

“All 14 councillors have received a draft appointment plan which shows there will be 16 portfolios – similar to cabinet positions in the government – and that all councillors will be the leader of at least one portfolio.

Holding a portfolio in the last administration saw a councillor paid nearly $18,000 a year more on top of a base annual salary of $69,240.

The Remuneration Authority determined the annual pool to pay councillors would be $1.28 million, with the mayor’s annual salary set at $153,660.”

Under the Remuneration Authority Act 1977, the Remuneration Authority is responsible for annually considering and determining the remuneration and allowances of Members of Parliament and the Judiciary, as well as specified statutory officers and members of local authorities and community boards.

On 18 March 2010 councillors agreed to an increase to their salaries, which took effect from 1 July 2010. In 2009/10 most councillor voted not to accept a salary increase, due to the economic situation at the time, saving of $20,503.  The economy was so much better in 2010 – Yeah Right.

 The Authority determined that there would be no increase to the size of the remuneration pool for the 2010/11 financial year from that offered in 2009/2010 – but that this time the full pool must be allocated. It also determined that the Mayor’s salary will remain at its current level for the 2010/11 financial year.

After the 2010 local elections salaries for all elected members, excluding the Mayor, were reduced to a lower rate (basic non-porfolio rate). This will be in place until the Council votes on its governance structure and salaries on 11 November. Once the Authority approves the Council’s proposal, the new salary rates, including any back pay required, will apply through to June 2011.

In a sign of the sensivitity of the issue it’s reported that “Ms Wade-Brown’s office declined to release a copy of the draft appointment plan to be voted on by councillors at their next meeting on November 11.”  The end of the open government experiment already!

The Dom Post also reports there could be as many as 16 portfolios – 9 more than at the beginning of the last administration.

“There are also committee or sub-committee chairmanships up for grabs. These include the powerful strategy and policy committee, with councillor Andy Foster pencilled in to continue the role he held in the last council.”

The Dom Post, which appears to have seen a copy of the plan, denied to the public of Wellington, says:

“Not covered in the plan is the plum role as Wellington Airport director, worth $37,500 a year. The position was previously held by former mayor Kerry Prendergast. The council owns 34 per cent of the airport.

There is also no mention of a councillor being appointed to the board of the council-owned Wellington Waterfront, which maps the development future of Wellington’s harbour.

Ms Wade-Brown has previously supported moves to bring it back into direct council control.” 

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