4 Nov 2013

Auckland councillors get pay rise

8:51 pm on 4 November 2013

Auckland councillors say they are worth the extra 9% to 16% awarded in pay rises this year.

The Auckland Council is New Zealand's biggest, serving nearly 1.5 million people. The higher salaries for 170 politicians will add nearly $500,000 to council costs.

Auckland Council logo.

Photo: RNZ

The Remuneration Authority has decided that the 19 ward councillors will be paid almost $9000 more than a year ago, taking their basic pay to $98,672.

It has decided that even bigger increases should be paid to the city's deputy mayor and to the chairs of many of the second-tier Local Boards.

Deputy Penny Hulse's pay will go up to $141,337, an increase of just under 15%, while mayor Len Brown receives a 1.5% pay rise to $251,010.

Pay for some of the Local Board chairs have been boosted by up to 15%, with the authority deciding that their roles are increasing and are almost fulltime. Board chairs will receive between $45,211 and $88,222 and ordinary board members will be paid about half that range.

The authority says that councillors would have been paid more if it hadn't taken into account fairness on ratepayers and the economic climate.

Councillors spoken to by Radio New Zealand News say the job can be up to 70 hours a week and election campaigns can cost $10,000 to $30,000.

Senior councillor Penny Webster believes the wages are about right. "I think this is probably catch-up. I wouldn't like to see these sort of pay rises again in the future, but I think this is adjusting the pay to what the actual job is now we've had three years to work out what people are actually doing and the hours they are putting in."

However, ratepayer Dennis Brown and a member of the Northern Action Group in Rodney, says he is sick of pay rises being awarded to councillors who don't perform.

"A lot of them do work long hours but, if we look at their background and what they're achieving, are they doing a good job? Are they value for money?"

The politicians' pay is to be reviewed in mid-2014.

The Auckland Council will consider introducing a so-called Living Wage of $18.40 an hour for the lowest paid staff next year.