Should Councilors be paid less?
Traditionally a very large portion of a Councilor’s time was taken up with Development Applications (DAs). This has changed. Councilors are no longer involved with the determinatiin of DAs. Instead, Local Planning Panels comprised mainly of independent experts now determine large developments (Council staff are delegated to determine the smaller DAs).
The new planning Panel comprises an independent chair, two other independent experts and a sole community member. They meet monthly. Per meeting the chair is paid $2,000+, independent experts $1,500+ and the community member $500+. This equates to around $44,000+ p.a.
Our 13 councillors on the other hand are paid at least $22,400 each p.a. equating to $291,000 p.a
It is difficult to quantify the time Councilors spent on DAs. It has been suggested that this could have been of the order of 50-75% of their time (maybe higher for some Councilors). If this was the situation, there is a case that Councilors be paid less. Maybe up to $220,000 p.a less. This would see the Councilor allowance drop to to around $5,600 p.a.
Such an allowance might not be atractive to potential Councilors. The way this could be addressed would be to reduce the number of Councilors.
Twenty odd years ago there were 15 councilors in five wards. Now there are 12 in four wards plus the Mayor. Instead, we could maybe keep the four wards but with a single Councilor plus four Councilors elected across the city plus a Mayor – 9 councilors. At say $10,000 per annum each this would cost $90,000 p.a – a saving of around $200,000 p.a. that could be directed toward local community services.
There is a related article worth a read in the North Shore Times, Tighter IHAP vetting required by Matt Taylor, 24 May 2018, p.20.