ORC pay request turned down

A call for pay to be more even between Otago Regional councillors with the responsibility for a committee and those who do not has been turned down by the Remuneration Authority.

Last November, councillors voted six to five to approach the Remuneration Authority for approval to decrease chairmen's pay to $50,000 from $51,960 and increase councillors' pay to $44,280 from $43,300.

Cr Doug Brown said at the November meeting that he considered the gap between the proposed salaries for councillors and committee chairmen was too wide.

Some councillors served in roles for which there was no remuneration, he said.

The request came despite the pay for councillors for the 2013 to 2016 triennium being proposed by the last council and approved by the Remuneration Authority.

Cr Brown had said the base rate had been agreed under different circumstances and the new council had agreed on a more encompassing approach with more involvement of committee deputies.

Council corporate services director Wayne Scott said at a meeting this week the Remuneration Authority had turned down the request to amend councillors' pay structure.

Authority deputy chairwoman Angela Foulkes said in a letter to the council Hay research done for the authority in another area found little or no additional responsibility applied to deputy chairmen.

''Had a significant argument been presented and there had been unanimous or close to unanimous support, the authority might have approved a change, but neither of the above appears to be the case.''

One of the reasons the authority abandoned the pool system of setting councillor pay was that it did not have confidence it reflected ''accountabilities and time commitment rather than political expediency'', she said.

''Decisions made around the council table without background papers and supporting evidence do not give us the confidence we would require to approve a change.''

Councillors did not comment on the authority's decision at the meeting.

- rebecca.fox@odt.co.nz


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