CASH SPLASH: Councillors defend their push for an increase to their annual allowance with one stating the $20,000 they receive puts them on the poverty line.
CASH SPLASH: Councillors defend their push for an increase to their annual allowance with one stating the $20,000 they receive puts them on the poverty line. Contributed

'Poverty line': Councillors give themselves a pay rise

A LISMORE City councillor has defended their decision to increase their allowances, stating the current figure "is below the poverty line".

At last night's council meeting, Cr Vanessa Ekins said the $20,000 annual allowance was not enough.

The call for councillors to receive a fee rise comes as the council is considering a 31 per cent rate rise over five years.

Cr Ekins said the hours councillors put in was not recognised by their allowance.

"Councillors need to be paid a living wage, in theory this would attract a higher calibre of councillors, perhaps attract young people who would treat this as a job," she said.

"The hours you put in as a councillor are certainly not rewarded in terms of the allowance, we put our heart and soul into this job."

She said the council needed to advocate for its councillors to receive the maximum allowance, which is up to $20,280 per annum.

But she said the fees simply did not fairly cover the incredible amount of work local councillors undertook on behalf of their community.

"This councillor allowance is well below the poverty line," she said.

"It took me 10 hours to read the business papers associated with tonight's meeting, we have been here since 5.30pm and we will be here for quite a few more hours, this is really clocking up the hours.

"I work causally and when I work four days a month I earn more than my councillor monthly allowance and I think this is pretty outrageous."

Cr Ekins also suggested that councillors should be able to undertake the role as full-time job in order to properly represent their community.

"We put in huge amounts of hours every week... I really think we should be offering a full time wage for the councillors," she said.

"This fee in no way reflects the hours we put in preparing for meetings reading papers, attending committee meetings and council meetings and other civic duties."

According to the Local Government Tribunal, the maximum amount a mayor in Regional Rural Council can receive is $44,250.

Crs Ekins, Bill Moorhouse, Eddie Lloyd, Darlene Cook, Elly Bird, Adam Guise and mayor Isaac Smith voted in favour and the motion was carried.



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