A majority of Shoalhaven councillors have voted for a 2 per cent wage rise for the mayor and have deferred discussions of a 2 per cent rise in councillor fees to the next term of council.
The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal's recommendations of a 2 per cent wage rise for the Mayor and councillors for the 2021-22 financial year was brought to council at the Strategy and Assets Committee meeting on Tuesday, June 8.
This brings the additional mayoral fee to $61,280 on top of the unchanged councillor fee of $24,314 for the 2021/22 financial year.
To put things into perspective, in the 2019/20 Shoalhaven council annual report, CEO Stephen Dunshea was shown to have earned $383,952 and his five directors an average of $198,505 per annum.
This included their salary, fringe benefits, vehicle and other on-costs for senior staff.
A motion put forth by Cr Greg Watson and seconded by Cr Mitchell Pakes to refer both recommendations to the next term of council was lost with only Crs Patricia White, John Wells and Mark Kitchener voting in favour.
In turn, Crs John Levett put forth a foreshadow motion to adopt the full recommendations, seconded by Cr Nina Digiglio with support from the CEO, the Greens and Labor but it was lost on a casting vote from the chair.
The winning motion to only bump up the Mayor's additional fee was put forth by Crs Proudfoot and Levett. The Mayor declared a conflict of interest and did not not vote.
The matter of superannuation payments for councillors will be a policy matter for determination by the Council following the September 2021 council elections and will apply from July 2021 following new legislation introduced by the state government.
Mayor Amanda Findley said "for the last five years as your mayor I haven't received superannuation, I've worked on average 60 hours a week and you all get to decide what I'm paid."
She encouraged councillors to increase the mayoral allowance at the meeting rather then leave it to the next mayor to decide at their first meeting of the term.
In his foreshadow motion, Cr Levett called for reform of council in areas of codes of conduct and its operation and argued that councillors should be paid as a fulltime job, perhaps with less councillors.
He congratulated councillors for the hard work that they put in, sometimes additional to their day jobs but said the way that council operates and pays councillors creates a bias that is not conducive for council to reflect an accurate cross section of the community.
"I think it should be a career as it is in Queensland where you're paid a fulltime salary and perhaps there might be half the number of councillors," he said.
"My fulltime job is being a councillor," replied Cr Wells.
"Well how can you do that and be a nurse?" Cr Levett asked in reference to Nina Digiglio's day job.
Cr Proudfoot said councillors need to be very cautious about supporting the idea that councillors should be a fulltime position but he agreed that the mayor should be paid more.
"Because you go from probably 13 councillors down to three and I think the strength of this council is that there's such a diverse range of points of view," said Cr Proudfoot.
"And in this situation here ... the mayor is worked into the ground because the mayor is perceived by the community to be the only full time employee in terms of the elected council.
"I don't really think we should be embarking on a radical change of direction and I'm prepared to let the next term of council make a decision."
FOR: Crs Gash, Digiglio, Alldrick, Levett, Proudfoot and CEO Stephen Dunshea
AGAINST: Crs Wells, White, Pakes, Watson and Kitchener