Coast council leaders reluctant to take pay cut

Jamie Cleine
Jamie Cleine
Council leaders on the West Coast are less than enthusiastic about the idea of taking a pay cut in solidarity with ratepayers hit by the Covid-19 lockdown.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel has said she is willing to take a pay cut, as her city faces hard economic times, and council income plummets.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has said he is open to the idea; Dunedin Mayor Aaron Hawkins is donating weekly to Women's Refuge, and the city's chief executive will drop her $440,000 salary by 15% over the next six months.

However, Coast mayors and the regional council chairman are not so keen.

Greymouth Mayor Tania Gibson said her council was still working hard, under pressure, but she was in favour of a pay freeze this year for elected members.

Ms Gibson said the council would be lobbying the Remuneration Authority, which decided what mayors and councillors were paid.

"I've discussed this with my CEO - we didn't think the pay rise last year was needed and this is even more of an issue this year with Covid-19, with our ratepayers doing it hard."

Bruce Smith
Bruce Smith
Buller Mayor Jamie Cleine said his council discussed the idea this morning and decided it should be up to individual councillors to decide if they would forgo part of their pay.

"They can't change their pay rate - but they can if they want to, make donations to a cause or charity -- some already do this, " Mr Cleine said.

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith agreed councillors could not simply decide to take a pay cut.

"That's not how it works. We are bound by the legislation and we follow it.

"The Remuneration Authority controls what we are paid and that system was put in place so we did not have to make choices about it. If the Authority says we take a pay cut, that's fine. "

West Coast Regional Council chairman Allan Birchfield said he was expecting the question to come up.

"But I won't comment until the whole council's had a talk about it, in confidence - it's not something I'd want to take a personal position on at this point."

The regional council would also be holding its April meeting via video conference, Cr Birchfield said.

- By Lois Williams

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