Councillors set for 6% pay rise
The mayoral allowance would top $100,000 for the first time
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
MORELAND’S mayor and councillors are set for a 6% pay rise as the council reviews its elected officials’ allowances for the first time in four years.
Councillors voted on Wednesday in favour of increasing their allowances by almost $2000 to $31,444 per annum. The mayoral allowance will also rise by 6.1% to $100,434 a year. Both the mayor and councillors are also entitled to 9.5% superannuation.
This will be the first rise since the allowances were last set in June 2017. During that time, the consumer price index in Melbourne has risen by 7.4%, so the proposed pay rise is actually less than inflation.
In her recommendation to the council meeting, Moreland’s director for business transformation, Sue Vujcevic, noted that the councillors represent over 186,000 residents and oversee an annual budget of more than $216 million, putting it in the top tier of Victorian councils for size and the complexity of its responsibilities.
“Each Councillor commits considerable time in addition to their employment and personal lives in the execution of their Council responsibilities,” she wrote. “The Mayor has a leadership role in the Moreland community and Moreland has consistently supported this role by dedicating it as a full-time position.”
But Cr Sue Bolton opposed the increase, arguing instead that allowances for councillors should be pegged to the median wage, which she said was $49,805 per annum. The mayor would be paid the full amount, while councillors would receive half of that.
“I think there’s a lot of criticism of councils and politicians for being out of touch with the community and this would be a more realistic amount for councillors to receive,” she said.
“There are other things the money could be spent on much more fruitfully.”
But Cr Lambros Tapinos argued that appropriate compensation was necessary to attract more diversity of potential candidates to the council, including women and people from minority communities. He said prior to last year’s council elections, he had been told on numerous occasions that the time commitment was a deterrence against running for office, especially as it would inevitably mean foregoing some income from the candidate’s usual job.
Deputy Mayor Mark Riley agreed that to serve as a councillor required considerable commitment of time and effort, along with pressure to do a good job.
“It’s also important after International Women’s Day this week to encourage women to stand up for these roles, particularly given the current gender pay gap,” he said.
Ultimately, Cr Bolton was the only councillor to vote against the increase.
The new pay rates will be introduced before the end of this financial year, and residents will be given a chance to comment before they are adopted.
The decision by Moreland Council is likely to be an interim measure, with the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal expected to make a determination on all local government allowances towards the end of this year.