Fee debate in private

Debate over the amount of money allocated for Dunedin City Council company directors' fees was deemed non-public at the last minute yesterday.

A proposal to allocate $785,879 for directors' fees - spread across the council's group of companies - was expected to be debated in the public part of yesterday's full council meeting.

However, that changed when Cr Kate Wilson warned holding the debate in public would prevent her from raising related issues that had first been discussed in previous non-public council sessions.

She recommended the debate be moved into the non-public part of yesterday's meeting, and won support for the idea from other councillors without further debate.

The report they were to consider, prepared by Dunedin City Holdings Ltd chief executive Bevan Dodds, recommended a sum of $785,879, split into lump sums allocated to each company.

The exact amounts allocated to each director would be decided by each company board, reflecting individual workloads, his report said.

Councillors were also to consider two new appointments to the boards of DCHL subsidiaries City Forests and Taieri Gorge Railway in the non-public part of the meeting.

Appointments to the boards of Dunedin Venues Management Ltd and Dunedin Venues Ltd were also to be discussed.

And at a living wage

Dunedin City Holdings Ltd chief executive  Bevan Dodds recommended a sum of $785,879 for directors' fees - spread across the council's group of companies.  To give an sense of perspective, at a little over the living wage this would be enough to pay for 41362 hours' work.

True, directors have important responsibilities - but since there appears to be scant record of their being held responsible for poor decisions,  this justification for high pay is questionable.  However, as long as decisions are made by their peers whose standards and expectations are unlike those of most ratepayers and taxpayers such questioning is unlikely.

When it comes to being held responsible for poor performance causing loss or harm, people involved in e.g. care of the elderly and infirm are at far more risk of their errors of judgement and performance  resulting in punishment, dismissal and even appearance in Court to answer serious charges.

Should not the low-risk nature of directors' jobs be reflected in their remuneration?  Dangerous occupations especially in harsh conditions reward workers with high pay rates.  Few would call that unfair.  How about the opposite?  Is it time we looked seriously into the fairness there?

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