OUR next councillors will receive roughly the same fees if they laboured on a building site to make ends meet, based on averages.
The annual fee payable to councillors is set at $17,060 each for the financial year starting on July 1.
That would equate to an hourly rate of $21 to $16 given an average 15 to 20 hour council-related workload a week.
The annual fee payable to a popularly elected mayor is set at an extra $37,230.
The combined annual mayoral and councillor allowance of $54,290 would work out at about $26 an hour if the mayor put in a 40-hour week, for example.
A policy covers the payment of expenses and provision of facilities on top of the set fees.
The mayor gets the use of a car.
Port Macquarie-Hastings Council administrator Neil Porter raised the level of councillor fees with Local Government Minister Don Page last year.
“In comparison to what is paid in other states in Australia, NSW is too low,” he said. “I’m confident that the allowances paid have an impact on some people whether they will stand [for election] or not.”
Mr Porter said he hoped councillor and mayoral allowances would be revisited as part of the review examining local government.
The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal sets the minimum and maximum fees in each council category for councillors and mayors.
Our council adopted the maximum fees allowable in its category.
Mayoral and councillor candidate Adam Roberts said for him, it was not about the money.
Mr Roberts said he had spoken to people who would not run for council because it was not financially viable.
He said the remuneration clearly didn’t represent time for effort.
“Add in the suggestion that these wages are suggested to be appropriate remuneration for individuals who in Port Macquarie Hastings’ case, provide leadership and strategic direction for a billion dollar plus economy,” Mr Roberts said.
“Clearly, there is something fundamentally wrong with this picture.”
Country Labor mayoral and councillor candidate Peter Alley said the increase in fees adopted by the council would make little difference to whether people came forward because no one did the job for the councillor fees.
“They must at some level have an interest to serve the public,” he said.
September’s local government election will mark the return of councillors and a mayor to our council.
The Local Government Association of NSW and the Shires Association of NSW have lobbied for a professional remuneration structure to ensure local government attracts appropriately qualified people with the time and dedication to run a modern large business.