Should councillors be paid more?
GYMPIE Regional Council pays were put under the spotlight this week by our sister publication The Daily Examiner in the Clarence Valley, New South Wales.
They were comparing the income of our mayor Ron Dyne with theirs, Richie Williamson, and councillors.
They posed the question: Do our councillors deserve to be paid more and, if they did, would we get better representation?
They compared the payments our councillors receive with those of their councillors in New South Wales. The Clarence Valley Council is similar to the Gympie Regional Council on all fronts.
They have similar populations; each has areas of coastline with development pressures, a large rural hinterland and similar demographics.
In the Clarence, the mayor receives $16,000 and allowances worth about $35,000.
In Gympie, the mayor gets between $114,000 and $130,500 with a car on top, plus expenses.
In the Clarence, the deputy mayor gets $16,000 plus a $3000 deputy’s allowance. In Gympie the deputy mayor gets between $75,000 and $88,000. He also gets a car.
In the Clarence, a councillor gets $16,000. In Gympie, councillors get between $65,000 and $78,000, plus a car.
Clarence councillors oversee a budget of $150 million, a population of 51,000 and a geographical area of 10,550 square kilometres.
Gympie has a budget of $131 million, a population of 46,500 and an area of 6898 square kilometres.
Clarence Valley Council general manager Stuart McPherson says that paying more money will give you better council representation.
“If the payment was higher we could get a more diverse range of candidates.”
He said it was difficult for regular wage and salary earners to seek a position on the council because their employers would balk at it.
Providing extra payments could make being a councillor a more attractive proposition. In Gympie, that theory didn’t play out.
We only had two new councillors elected (Graham Engeman and Rae Gate) out of nine positions; the rest had already been in council some time before on much less pay.
So The Gympie Times is asking it s readers: Are we getting value for money?
Do we get better representation because we pay our council representatives much more money than we did before amalgamation and are our councillors doing a better job than their underpaid counterparts in the Clarence Valley?