Councillors vote to increase their wages following MidCoast Council reclassification

Councillors vote to increase their wages following MidCoast Council reclassification

A pay rise is on the way for MidCoast Council councillors and mayor.

Councillors will now receive an annual fee of $24,320 (up from $20,280) and the mayor will receive $60,080 (up from $44,250) on top of the councillor fee.

Councillors voted for the raise at the ordinary meeting of council on July 22 following a determination from the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal that reclassified the council to a Regional Centre (it was previously classed as Rural Regional).

The new fees take effect from July 1, 2020.

MidCoast Council is one of 24 councils in New South Wales to be reclassified from Rural Regional to Regional Centre.

The councillors were asked to determine an amount between $28,750 to $60,080 for the mayor and between $13,820 to $24,320 for councillors.

Mayor David West and councillor David Keegan were not in attendance at the meeting and did not take part in the vote.

Only one councillor objected to taking a pay rise at the top of the range, calling for their fees to remain the same as they had been receiving.

Katheryn Smith said that while the reclassification was appropriate, when they put their hand up for council their category was Rural Regional and she didn't feel comfortable increasing their fee.

Cr Katheryn Smith said she didn't feel comfortable increasing councillors' fees.

Cr Katheryn Smith said she didn't feel comfortable increasing councillors' fees.

She moved an amendment to the motion to keep the fees at the same level for this financial year.

"We've gone through a lot and we've been working around the clock, but I don't feel comfortable. We signed up knowing what the area and parameters were.

"Councillors don't get superannuation or other things that people think we get... but our term hasn't ended."

She suggested they look at it next year for a brand new council term.

Her amendment was lost when no other councillor put their hand up to second it.

Cr Brad Christensen said while he understood where Cr Smith was coming from, there was a council election coming up next year and he felt an increased salary may encourage more young people to put up their hand.

"We need to encourage as many people as we can."

Cr Len Roberts moved the recommendation to accept the reclassification of MidCoast Council and to set the councillor fee at $24,320 and the mayor's fee at $60,080, and it was seconded by Cr Troy Fowler.

All councillors present at the meeting voted in favour of the recommendation, except for Cr Smith, who voted against.

Cr Roberts said that while it "sounds like a lot of money, it's the culmination of a couple of years' work here and the Local Government and State Government have recognised we are three former councils now in one.

"We are no longer a small shire or city. We are a regional centre. We have a long way to go. We are probably one of the largest populations on the coast outside of the city.

"The reclassification is befitting and shows it values the work by councillors and staff."

The increases have been factored into council's 2020/2021 draft budget. An adjustment to reflect the exact amounts will be made at the September 2020 Quarterly Budget Review.

Section 239 of the Local Government Act requires the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal to determine the categories of councils and mayoral offices at least once every three years.

In reviewing the categories, the Tribunal examined a range of statistical and demographic data and considered the submissions of councils and Local Government NSW (LGNSW), including a submission from MidCoast Council.

The tribunal determined to retain a categorisation model which differentiates councils primarily on the basis of their geographic location, and the other factors including population, the sphere of the council's economic influence and the degree of regional servicing.

Regional Centre was one of two new categories created in the non-metropolitan group this year.