Worth the money? – public asked to vote on councillor pay rise

Do you think Broken Hill City councillors deserve more pay? Well, soon you’ll get the opportunity to let them know how much you think they’re worth, thanks to a planned vote on the issue.

Each of the part-time councillors is currently paid up to $17,982.60 a year, while Mayor Tom Kennedy pockets $39,234.60.

For the next financial year, councillors are looking to give themselves a 3% pay rise, which would take their annual fee to $18,522.08 per councillor and $40,411.64 for the Mayor.

“I think it’s very important that we ask the community,” said Cllr Michael Boland at the recent full council meeting.

“Ultimately, they’re our bosses and if they think we’re doing a good job and we deserve a pay rise, they’ll let us know.

“If they want us to work a little bit harder, they’ll let us know, or if the cost-of-living pressure is getting quite high for all, they may say, ‘look, we love the job you’re doing, but please keep the fees the same as we are all suffering through [increasing] cost of living expenses.’”

But not every councillor thought the planned vote via the May/June BHCC newsletter and council’s Facebook page was a good idea.

Councillors Darriea Turley and Marion Browne voted against using just social media and the newsletter, with Cllr Turley saying it was too easy to manipulate.

It was also unscientific and inconsistent with other decisions made around allowances/packages and travel, she said.

Cllr Kennedy said councillors should not be sitting in judgment on themselves and their own pay rises.

“I think it’s much more appropriate that the community does [make the decision], and I’m sure councillors would be more than happy to accept whatever the result is,” he said.

“I’m hearing a lot of positive feedback when it comes to the performance of council, councillors, council staff, and management, so I’m sure that we’re going to get good feedback,” said Mr Kennedy.

Cllr Browne said, “it’s really grossly oversimplifying the whole question and I think you just want to make it into some sort of a popularity contest, but it’s trivialising an important thing.”

“I think it is important that people have a bit more information before they’re just asked to say yes or no based on their impression of what the council’s been doing,” concluded Cllr Browne.

Councillors Browne and Turley voted against the suggested method of public voting but lost that vote, so ratepayers will be asked for their opinion from July 17 via the council newsletter, Council’s website and Facebook page, through a form in the Barrier Truth, or in person using a voting slip at the Council Administration building, 240 Blende St, Broken Hill.

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