The Salaries and Allowances Tribunal has released higher pay rates for Councillors and Mayors.
Under the new arrangement Councillor fees will be set according to a banding system determined by the size of Council budgets and populations.
Councillors in Band 1 Councils such as Canning, Freo, Perth and Joondalup will see their annual sitting fees rise to a range of $24,000-$30,000.
Band 2 Councillors from Vincent, Cambridge and Kalamunda will be paid from $14,500 to $22,000.
Band 3 (East Freo) and Band 4 (Peppermint Grove) Councillor fees are consistent with their smaller catchments.
Mayors generally fared less well – the Lord Mayor is the exception.
Lisa Scaffidi’s annual allowance will lift to a maximum of $130,000.
However, larger Councils will now be able to authorise an increase in their Mayor’s allowance from an average of $60,000 to $85,000.
Where the Tribunal has tightened things up is in the area of expenses:
“The Tribunal does not wish that reimbursement of expenses should be a means by which council members could profit from their office or top up fees and allowances already paid. Consequently, the Tribunal has determined wherever possible that actual amounts of expenses shall be reimbursed”.
The new fees will come in to effect 1 July 2013, but for how many Councillors and for how long?
Minister for Local Govt, Tony Simpson, assures us Council elections will go ahead on October 19 (except City of Canning), but no word yet on availability of Councillor or Mayoral positions for Councils known in advance of election to be subject to amalgamation.
Will a newly merged Council end up with 2-3 times the number of elected representatives temporarily?
Currently the number of Councillors per local govt area ranges from 5 to 15, but the Robson Review on Metro Local Govt Reform recommended culling to 6 to 9.
What if a Band 1 Council merges with a Band 2 Council? Will the first item of business be to work out who will get paid what?
Interestingly, there is a slightly different wording relating to local govt election specifications on the Dept of Local Govt website, compared to what appears on the WA Electoral Commission’s site:-
According to the Dept of Local Govt, “Ordinary local government elections are held on the third Saturday in October every two years, generally for 50% of the members of every council“…..
Yet the WA Electoral Commission’s description doesn’t dally with words like “generally”, ie “Elections are held every 2 years on the third Saturday in October for half of the council…”.
Does this slight discrepancy mean anything?
There is still the question of how long will newly elected or re-elected Councillors serve?
The Minister says it will be for “a significant term“, and has also flagged he expects merged councils will take about two years to sort out assets, employees, planning regimes, etc, but only two weeks ago the Mayor of Fremantle expressed his concern that Commissioners will be brought in within 18 months to replace Councils.
What would require Commissioners to enact? The transition of several Councils in to one without bun fights, or institution of reforms hinted at but not yet revealed?
Normal rules don’t always apply to Commissioners, as the people of Canning are finding out.
The Barnett Govt can’t justify taking any longer than the two months promised on 4 June to reveal the new Council boundaries. Not after the Premier chucked a few tantrums himself recently about how long the process was taking.
But it will probably just be the start of even more questions.
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