Wellington City Councillors Vote Against Pay Increase

20 March 2009

Councillors unanimously voted against a pay increase in today's Strategy and Policy Committee meeting.

The decision has yet to be ratified by a Council meeting next Thursday and once that happens, the City Council will officially ask the Remuneration Authority to consider a nil salary increase for elected members.

Mayor Kerry Prendergast says some Wellingtonians are already experiencing the strain of the recession through job losses and increased living costs, and "even though we are talking about a relatively small amount of money, we still feel it's a necessary gesture to our ratepayers.

"We want to remain consistent with the messages we have been sending about the need to curb the city's expenditure, and I think the City Council's management board have already demonstrated this by freezing their salaries. Now it's our turn."

Councillor Ian McKinnon, the Council's Governance Portfolio Leader, adds that it would be hypocritical to accept a pay increase while Councillors are working to reduce Council expenditure through the Long Term Council Community Plan.

"We feel that we cannot possibly demonstrate strength of leadership for the City if we accept a pay increase in this economic climate, a concern we have been focussing on for the past several months," he says.

The Mayor's salary is set by the Remuneration Authority and cannot be amended. However, Mayor Prendergast intends to donate the increase of $5,493 that she will receive to charity.

Councillors agreed in mid-December to immediately cease benefits such as cable television and alcohol in the councillor's lounge. And today, they ratified the decision they made in December to discontinue the mileage allowance they receive for the use of their own vehicles while on Council business.

The salary pool currently stands at $1,314,700, and an additional $42,683 is funded by the Council to contribute to the salaries of community board members. The Remuneration Authority recommended an increase of $68,779 to the pool for 20009/10. However, the Council will ask the Authority to increase the pool by the lesser figure of $48,276. This will cover the cost of the Mayor's increased salary and the balance of community board members' pay currently met from outside the pool. This means that the entire community board salary budget will be met from within the pool for 2009/10.