11.5% pay increase 'out of kilter': ORC chairman

Stephen Woodhead
Stephen Woodhead
The chairman of the Otago Regional Council will get a 11.5% pay increase over the next five months.

The Remuneration Authority, which sets the pay of elected council members across the country, has increased the chairman's rate from $131,833 to $136,889, starting on Monday.

This will further increase to $147,000 after the council elections in October.

From Monday, the deputy chairman role increases form $69,700 to $71,724, committee chairmen from $57,254 to $58,917 and the base councillor rate from $49,786 to $51,231.

The council will decide from the next election how to distribute a pool of $703,598 among the 11 non-chairman councillors, which averages at $63,963 each.

Council chairman Stephen Woodhead said the rates of regional councillors were becoming ''close to being out of kilter''.

''I was surprised at the lift that there has been and is going to be post the election for councillors and the chairman.''

This was compared to both council staff and district councillors, who earned less, but in some cases ''worked very hard for their communities''.

''Many are still remunerated very poorly.''

When asked if he would challenge the pay rise, he said ''I'm not sure that you can''.

''They work through a process and council is obliged to pay it. It's obliged to use the whole pool.''

He never took the role of councillor for the pay, he said.

The authority has signalled the increases are due to the expanding nature of councillor and chairman roles.

It also introduced a childcare allowance for councillors with responsibility for children under the age of 14, of up to $6000 annually.

It would contribute towards expenses incurred for childcare while the member was engaged on council business.

Cr Carmen Hope, who lives near Middlemarch and has primary school-aged children, said the provision could act as a ''back stop'' for rural parents.

''You have more choices in the city. There wasn't a lot around Middlemarch in terms of childcare back in the day.''

Raising children was a ''big juggle'' with council work, so it gave the support for some people to run who may not have otherwise.

However, as the money came from rates, she would only apply for it in ''dire circumstances''.



It appears convenient that every time a councilor of whatever so called publicly elected organisation receives a large pay increase they protest the amount yet seem to blame a system they created for being unable to say no to it. Greed is a level of power that consumes.