Sunday, November 7, 2010

Frank Newman: How much are the Super-City Councillors really worth?

It didn’t take long… the new Auckland supercity councillors wanting to be paid more, despite being paid a base salary of about $80,000.

When I was first elected to the Whangarei District Council in 1995 we were paid $16,000 a year. I can’t recall any councillor moaning about their salary. Most accepted the role was essentially one of community service.

When I left office in 2007 the pay was about $40,000 and every year when remuneration was reviewed I would have to sit and listen to the bleating pleas, usually from those who claimed to be representing the poor and disadvantaged, that they deserved more. Despite their claims of a heavy work load all but a few had other jobs or business interests that paid as much if not more than the Council salary. Often I would hear them say, “If you pay peanuts you get monkeys”, which actually would have been funny had they intended it to be a joke. Seriously, the councillors I sat with in 2004 were no less ape-like than the ones I sat with in 1995, despite the pay differential.

In my experience councillors are not actually worth what they receive, but it’s not for me to put a value on their worth. Nor do I think it is up to the Higher Salaries Commission. Let ratepayers decide, after all it is ratepayers who are paying their salaries.

It’s simple enough. Council could send out an annual survey asking ratepayers to put a figure on how much their elected representatives should be paid. Why not? Don’t councillors trust ratepayers to make a wise choice?

Let the good people of Auckland say how much their super councillors are worth. What a reality check that would be for our super city councillors!


Michael Gibson said...

When I was first elected to the Wellington Regional Council the "pay" was $30 a day (when one or more meetings were attended) up to 80 days a year.
The present situation is ridiculous.
What a good idea to have the pay set by the humble ratepayer - if candidates think that the 'offer' is too little for their talents they can then try to sell them elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

When I was younger, the people that put themselves forward for election, did so out of a sense of civic duty. There was no suggestion of being paid. Today, the first question asked is, "how much does this job pay?".
The calibre of candidate, as a consequence, is abominable.
very few of them know how to run a successful business yet we put them in charge of millions of our ratepayer dollars. No wonder the council staff run circles around them with expensive council agendas.