Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell is one of the councillors to receive a pay rise, but did not vote for the increase.
Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell is one of the councillors to receive a pay rise, but did not vote for the increase.

POLL: Are our councillors paid enough?

COUNCILLORS from Lismore and Kyogle voted for a 2.5% pay rise on Tuesday night in a move that might ruffle the feathers of some ratepayers.

The mayors of Ballina, Byron and Lismore - David Wright, Simon Richardson and Jenny Dowell - are the top earners in local government on the Northern Rivers, pocketing $58,470 a year.

However, Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland and Richmond Valley mayor Ernie Bennett earn substantially less at $35,040 and $34,177 respectively.

Each year the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal recommends a percentage wage increase, which councillors vote to adopt or reject.

Lismore mayor Jenny Dowell said Lismore City Council traditionally went for the maximum allowable pay rise determined by the tribunal.

"For councillors, that's an increase of about $400 a year which takes them to just over $18,000 a year," she said.

"A mayor gets an annual fee that's going up to just over $40,000 plus the councillor's fee, which takes my wage to about $58,000.

Would you serve as a councillor for the pay currently available (between $10,000 and $18,000 a year)

This poll ended on 15 June 2015.

Current Results

Yes, it's about service, not the money

57%

No, but I would if I could be paid a living wage

17%

No. There's no amount of money that could make that job worthwhile

24%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

"I voted against the increase, as I always have in the 10 years I've been on council," Cr Dowell said.

Putting in 80 hours a week, some of which was her choice, Cr Dowell said the remuneration calculated at a hourly rate was below the minimum wage.

"For the hours councillors put in it's a pittance, particularly for councillors who are self employed or have to support a family," she said.

Pay scales for each of the state's 152 councils are determined by the tribunal based on the category classification of each council.

Do our local politicians get paid a pittance or do they deserve more for what they do?

This poll ended on 17 June 2015.

Current Results

They get paid too much

51%

They should be paid more

48%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

Both Kyogle and Richmond Valley councils are two of 77 in NSW rated as category 4 rural councils and attract a lower rate of pay, while Lismore City and the Ballina and Byron shires are three of 32 regional-rural councils across the state and are awarded a higher rate of pay.

The discrepancy between Kyogle and Richmond Valley pay rates occurred when the latter voted several years ago to forego an increase due to the council's financial position.

Kyogle mayor Danielle Mulholland said being a councillor was a community service and the remuneration was tokenistic.

"It's a seven day a week job and you are pretty much on call full-time," she said.

Cr Mulholland said being mayor didn't offer the benefits of a normal job.

"You serve your term and get paid your allowances and at the end of the term you are done, so you get no benefits like holidays or superannuation," she said.

"When you run for council you don't do it for the money, it's a community service and the impost on people working full-time as well can be huge."

Ballina Shire Council acting general manager Steve Barnier said in 2012 councillors voted to adopt the tribunal's maximum annual allowance , which was 2.5% for 2015/2016.

Richmond Valley Counhad a policy of accepting the tribunal's recommended increase each year.

 

What our councillors are paid:

Ballina: $18,380

Byron: $18,380

Kyogle: $11,010

Lismore: $18, 380

Richmond Valley: $10,737

Average Northern Rivers wage: Men $44,000, women $33,000



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