Taxpayers across the country are about to pump an extra $3.1 million into the pay packets of their local politicians.
The Remuneration Authority, which sets the pay for city, district and regional councils, has increased the national pay pool by 8.9 per cent, meaning some councillors will pocket rises of up to $16,000 after this year’s elections.
By comparison, average workers’ pay packets are creeping up about 1.8 per cent a year.
Under the changes, published this week, Wellington City councillors are among the big winners, with their base salaries increasing nearly $11,000 to $76,600.
But other roles would take pay cuts of as much as $17,000. These would include Greater Wellington Regional Council chairwoman Fran Wilde and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, if they are re-elected.
Local Government New Zealand chairman Lawrence Yule welcomed the new pay system, as elected officials were finding it increasingly difficult to hold down other employment, he said.
“If they’re to give up other career options, or significant family life, or significant other things they’re doing, then they do have to be properly remunerated.”
I think the most regrettable change in local body politics is that Councillors have become a near full-time role. They shouldn’t be. It should be a part-time governance role that people do on top of their normal jobs.
What this has led to is far too many Councillors who are full-time politicians. That is their sole job. So obviously their focus goes purely on politics.
Mayors should be well paid, and some are under-paid.
But being a Councillor should be around a 15 hour a week job. They should be focusing on governance and major policy decisions. Not sitting all day on endless council committees. The sole exception might be Auckland due to its size.