Oh dear, if there’s a phrase that politicians should never utter it’s “we deserve a pay rise” and to be fair, the mayors interviewed by the Southland Times didn’t put it in exactly those words.
Queenstown-Lakes mayor Clive Geddes said:
“My own view, not speaking for myself but speaking for the councils and community chairs in this district, is that their remuneration is significantly below the effort and contribution they make.”
Central Otago mayor Malcolm Macpherson said:
. . . in my view people who do the sort of work that rural authority mayors do are pretty much underpaid as it is.
And Southland District mayor Frana Cardno said:
. . . Our councillors earn a pathetic amount that wouldn’t even cover the costs of them leaving their work for the day . . .
I suspect they all have a point, that council pay is less than fair compensation for the time and effort good councillors put into their work.
But ratepayers hearing their elected representatives saying they deserve a pay rise are unlikely to be swayed by this when facing yet another increase in rates which is well above the rate of inflation.
It doesn’t matter that concillors’ pay is a tiny part of the total rates bill and their pay is set by the Remuneration Authority over which they have no control. Ratepayers almost certainly think their case for lower rates is stronger than the coucillors’ one for higher pay and are likely to respond to mayors saying they deserve a pay rise by offering them a Tui.
However, the debate raises two bigger issues – the growing rates burden and the method for setting the politicians’ pay.
Kiwiblog thinks the Remuneration Authority should set MPs’ salaries for a whole three year term. I agree and would like the same system used for local body politicians.