Councillors avoid an accidental pay rise

Dunedin city councillors were poised to award themselves an accidental pay rise yesterday.

The near miss came as councillors at the finance, strategy and development committee meeting considered the remuneration subcommittee's earlier decision to endorse a nearly $5000 pay rise for city councillors.

The pay-rise - with bonuses for councillors taking on extra responsibilities - followed advice from the Remuneration Authority and would take effect after October's elections.

Councillors were poised to vote to accept the sub-committee's minutes confirming the new rates when Cr Richard Thomson spotted a small but significant mistake. Somehow, a monthly allowance - meant to cover the cost of councillors using their own digital devices for council business - had dropped a zero and lost a decimal point, he pointed out.

Instead of being set at $87.50 a month, it had transformed into $875 a month, meaning a jump in annual value from $1050 a year to $10,500.

''I apologise for picking up the error,'' Cr Thomson said sheepishly to his colleagues.

''It was looking like a nice little earner for a minute.''

The error was fixed and councillors voted to accept the minutes, confirming the new pay rates which would see the next mayor paid $142,000 a year, meaning a slight drop from the $144,600 Mr Cull receives.

Councillors' base pay would rise by $4885, to $49,100, while those that took on extra responsibilities would receive more, an earlier report by council governance manager Sandy Graham said.

The deputy mayor would receive another $14,730, lifting the total package to $63,830, while committee and hearings chairmen would receive an extra $9820, or $58,920 in total.

Base pay rates were set by the Remuneration Authority, but the council could choose how to allocate a pool of funding for extra responsibilities, which in Dunedin totalled $73,650. Of that, another $9820 was yet to be allocated, but would be awarded to councillors who took on extra work as part of the second-generation district plan process.

Community board pay rates would vary, changing from a flat fee of $8166 to between $7000 and $8500 depending on the board, with chairmen paid twice that amount.

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