Would councillors take a pay cut to help out community boards?

Would city councillors be happy to give away a portion of their salaries to increase the remuneration of community board members? Louis Day reports

Six-figure-earning city councillors will have to consider sacrificing some of their salaries to boost the pay of community board members.

The Remuneration Authority, which sets the pay of city councillors and community board members, said if community board remuneration was to be increased, it would have to come from the money allocated towards the salaries of city councillors.

After the elections, councils around New Zealand will make proposals on the allocation of their governance pools, deciding on the salaries of city councillors and if any money from the pool will be put aside for community board members, which will be finalised by the authority.

Banks Peninsula Community Board members have complained about what they are paid in comparison to other community boards.

They receive $9670 a year and say it is not enough considering the time and travel they put into the work.

The current remuneration model is set by population, so community boards with bigger populations get better remuneration.

Half of the board say they may not seek reelection because of what they are paid.

City councillors are paid $102,400 a year, Deputy Mayor Andrew Turner receives $118,220 and Mayor Lianne Dalziel is on $193,099.

The Star asked city councillors this week what they thought of the new pay system.

The majority said they would be open to discussing a pay cut to increase the remuneration of community board members.

However, potential mayoral candidate and city councillor James Gough disagreed and accused his colleagues of being dishonest.

“Over election year you are going to get people that are going to give really politically correct answers when what they are wanting to say is no, but they will go well I might consider it because they don’t want to offend anyone,” he said.

Cr Gough had his concerns over cutting salaries.

“My only caution with that is salary is going to be a factor in attracting good quality candidates,” he said.

“I would caution against low remuneration for a councillors role.”

City councillor David East said it was a “cop out” from the Remuneration Authority.

“Would they [the Remuneration Authority] be happy to cut their salary to make the remuneration of community boards any better?” he said.

City councillor Tim Scandrett said he would vote to keep things the way they were.

He felt community board members, including those of the Banks Peninsula Community Board were fairly remunerated.

“Although they [Banks Peninsula Community Board members] travel a lot they do have less people deal with,” he said.

Cr Turner said he would support a decision to sacrifice part of the salaries.

“I think the level of pay for the Banks Peninsula Community Board is not adequate and is certainly out of line when compared to other city boards,” he said.

City councillor Sara Templeton said she would also be open to city councillor salaries
being used to better remunerate the community boards.

She said she is concerned the current model was preventing people from running for community boards.

“We need to enable a wide range of people to stand for our community boards, not just in Banks Peninsula but across the city, part of that is better remuneration,” Cr Templeton said.

City councillor Aaron Keown felt the current level of remuneration going to the Banks Peninsula Community Board needed to change.

“It’s like mum and dad saying they love you and your sister equally but when they die your sister gets 70 per cent of the house and you get 30 per cent,” he said.

City councillors Jimmy Chen, Anne Galloway, Vicki Buck, Glenn Livingstone, Pauline Cotter, Raf Manji, Deon Swiggs and Phil Clearwater also said they would be open to a discussion after the elections about sacrificing a portion of their salary to supplement community boards.

City councillor Yani Johanson did not respond to calls from The Star.

Ms Dalziel was unavailable for comment.

However, city councillor Mike Davidson said the remuneration of community board chairs as well as city councillor salaries needed to be looked at.

“What I always think is potentially the chairs may be over remunerated when you see
that they get double what community board members get,” he said.

Papanui-Innes Community Board chairwoman Ali Jones earns $46,310 a year, while board members are paid $23,155.

But Ms Jones said she would completely reject a reduction in her remuneration.

“I feel that what I’m paid is appropriate for the number of hours, the accessibility, the knowledge and experience that I bring to the role,” she

However, Ms Jones believed community board members did deserve to be better remunerated.

“You can’t rob Peter to pay Paul, you need to remunerate people correctly in the first place and you should not be cutting wages of city councillors who are already doing a huge job for the money they are paid,” Ms Jones said.