Sunday 2 December 2007

Show me the money

It may have been forced amalgamation, but it will also force Councillors to pocket a lot more salary, come next March.

The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal, governed by Warren Pitt MP, set up to recommend salaries for councillors, including mayors and deputies, will this week announce the pay levels for those elected in the March 2008 elections.

The mergers reduced the number of councils in Queensland from 156 to 72, wiping out 724 Councillors and their pay packets from our rate-payer funded coffers.

Douglas Shire councillors are paid $37,904 each p.a. but Mayor Byrne rewards his foot soldiers between $64,000 - $77,000.

It is arguable that amount of work councillors would be expected to do could increase, however there is little indication how this would be regulated or managed. Unlike a traditional workplace, many Councillors have their own business interests as well and are not monitored as to how much time they commit to the job.

Currently a Councillor can happily take home the pay and simply attend the monthly meeting, if that. Maybe the odd additional sub-committee meeting. Some Cairns Councillors over the term, have sparsely attended meetings. Suffice to say, there are some out there that put in extraordinary hours, sacrificing family commitments, besides the odd cup of Latte in Edge Hill.

The Remuneration Tribunal will establish different categories of councils and therefore pay levels will differ according to population levels, Council size and workloads. Other factors will be assessed like the extent of economic and community development, infrastructure and industry; geography of representative area. This is the case in the new Division 10 taking in Clifton Beach to Cape Tribulation, and maybe lower parts of Papua New Guinea I suspect.

Remuneration is an interesting subject and something we as ratepayers should be concerned about. Their role mirrors that of a manager of a large company, with the money and decision power that comes with the role. I'm not against a fair salary for Councillors, as it's often a job with little appreciation from many, although this Blogger does have his favourites!

What is interesting is how salaries have increased in Cairns. It's always difficult to seek such information in a conclusive manner, and FOI requests to Council can take months.

In 1996 the mayor took home $97,550, and by 2003, it had increased to $131,259. The Deputy moved from $50,415 to $81,174 over the same period. This is a 36 cumulative percentage increase in the four years to 2003 for the Mayor's salary alone. Councillor's salary increased 43% to around $60,000, a couple on $66,000.

Over the 1995 - 2000 Tom Pyne-led Council salaries increased 11.82%.

Whilst I have little beef with full time Council staff or senior managers, elected representatives, including the mayor, deserve our scrutiny.

I intend to update these graphs, but think they tell an interesting story in relation to the current Council and it's history of outpacing inflation adjustments and any other commercial salary comparative over a similar period.


Anonymous said...

Well done Mike. Further proof to get rid of greedy Byrne and his mates. The graphs look even worse beyond 2003, especially with regard to rates. Expose them more, you do a great job. I trust you have much more up your sleeve to show the public closer to election time.

Anonymous said...

Considering some Councillors do SWA, that's some big $$$$ to just sit on their bums.

Anonymous said...

It is not only the salary these people take home ,some of course do little to earn their money,it is also the perks of the job,which includes travelling expenses.which of course is all first class.Byrne
alone with all his overseas trips costs the ratepayers big dollars,
and some form of control should be in force to monitor his free trips.