Four councillors giving ORC pay boost to charity

Bryan Scott
Bryan Scott
Amid anger at Otago regional councillors pocketing the pay packet of the departed Marian Hobbs, four councillors have now confirmed they are donating the extra cash to charities.

Councillors voted 7-4 against inviting the next highest polling Dunedin constituency candidate to fill the gap the resignation created at the Otago Regional Council for the remainder of the term.

So Ms Hobbs’ remaining annual salary of $62,000 was divided evenly between the remaining 10 councillors, excluding council chairman Andrew Noone, as per the rules set out by the Remuneration Authority.

The result riled some commenters.

Michael Laws
Michael Laws
Many said money should be donated to an environmental cause.

Among the rebukes councillors received, one Otago Daily Times reader called councillors "a bunch of money-grabbing hypocrites".

However, Crs Bryan Scott, Michael Laws, Alexa Forbes, and Hilary Calvert all confirmed they were not keeping the money.

Cr Scott, who unsuccessfully led the attempt to replace Ms Hobbs with the next highest polling candidate from the 2019 election, approached the ODT in the days after the November meeting to say he would be donating his additional income.

He subsequently confirmed he had set up a direct credit for $140 per fortnight to the Salvation Army Dunedin food bank from yesterday until September 21 next year to reallocate the salary as "a matter of principle".

Alexa Forbes
Alexa Forbes
"I said at the time that not to replace Cr Hobbs was unrepresentative and unfair for the Dunedin people.

"With important decisions on resource issues such as water, each vote counts," Cr Scott said.

Cr Calvert also said she would be donating to the food bank.

Cr Forbes said the money would go to environmental organisations she supported but also to an organisation that supported and promoted te reo and te ao Maori.

Cr Laws said he always gave his net salary to charitable or community purposes.

Hilary Calvert
Hilary Calvert
In this case, the money from Ms Hobbs’ salary was being used to seed fund a Cromwell community project.

Cr Kevin Malcolm did not say he would donate the money, but instead said the additional remuneration would ensure he could continue to work with the Waitaki Event Centre Trust to establish a Waitaki Event Centre in Oamaru.

Cr Gary Kelliher said he did not publicly discuss donations if he made them.

Crs Gretchen Robertson, Michael Deaker, Carmen Hope and Kate Wilson did not respond.

Neither did Mr Noone, but as chairman, he did not receive any additional remuneration.

 - hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

Comments

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Case of the "guilts" making it difficult to sleep for some I think ... just wonder how long it's going to take before the rest of them fold.

Good on those Concillors who have donated their windfall to charity. A smart PR move demonstrating that they are capable of occasionally making wise decisions.

A generous use of ratepayers' money. At least they will be able to claim a tax refund for our donation!

Let's be clear, it's the ratepayers' money they are so generously giving away after a ridiculous rate increase - what heroes.

Isn't it so nice that the Councillors are really so generous with ratepayers' coin.

Nobody mention the tax write-off eh...

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