Boards' pay dispute settled; review in June

A pay dispute between the Wanaka Community Board and the Queenstown Lakes District Council has been settled for now - somewhat reluctantly on the Wanaka board's part.

The pay rates will be reviewed again in June and the board members intend to raise the issue then.

Three of the four affected board members met Queenstown Lakes Mayor Vanessa van Uden last week to discuss the council's finance manager Stewart Burns' recommendation to remove them from standing committees and reduce their annual salaries from $17,688 to $12,249.

The four board members voted against the recommendation in November, forcing the council to address the issue before voting on the recommendation in February.

Board member Mike O'Connor confirmed this week he and his colleagues had agreed to resolve the issue and "roll our sleeves up and get on with it". He said they felt they had inherited a problem from the previous council, which had appointed board members to council committees to alleviate councillor workloads.

As a newly elected board member, he was aware re-elected board members Ken Copland and Dick Kane were disappointed to lose their committee jobs. He voted with them because "the team should stick together".

Nobody had known, prior to the election, that the incoming council was going to reduce the size of the committees and that board members would lose some of their workloads.

The board still had plenty of work to do, sorting out Wanaka's sports field sites and other issues, he said.

Deputy board chairman Bryan Lloyd, another fresh face on the board this year, said he also supported the experienced board members and felt it was a shame that the workloads had been cut.

He accepted in principle the mayor's argument for cutting the pay but felt the board members had been harshly treated.

"The whole thing is open to review in June. We must supply evidence, [then] analyse the amount of time we actually put in, to convince the people who need convincing," Mr Lloyd said.

Board member Dick Kane said he had reluctantly accepted the decision but felt "chopped off at the knees" after learning he could no longer work on the utilities committee.

He also feared being left out of the loop now he would have less contact with staff, councillors and community board chairman Lyal Cocks.

Mr Kane felt if savings had to be made by cutting community board salaries, the difference should be returned to the ratepayers rather than added to councillors' salaries, which had increased from $28,077 last term to $29,444.

Mr Copland agreed the committee work had been valuable in terms of keeping in touch with councillors.

Board candidates should have been entitled to know the workloads would be cut before they stood for election, he said.

"We've gone back to being just Wanaka people again, rather than being part of the bigger picture," he said.