Council sets the record straight on Councillors’ remuneration
Southern Downs Regional Council’s Mayor, Cr Tracy Dobie said it’s time to put the record straight about Councillors’ remuneration, following recent speculation about pay rises, particularly on social media.
“There has recently been commentary on Facebook as well as a letter to the editor in a local newspaper about Councillors’ pay rises and remuneration which is simply wrong,” she said.
“The facts of this matter are these. Since 2008, Queensland’s Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal (the Tribunal) has determined the salaries paid to elected Local Government representatives, based on a percentage of the salaries paid to elected State Government representatives.
“There are nine categories of Councils in Queensland. Southern Downs Regional Council is in Category three, along with Western Downs, Lockyer Valley, Scenic Rim and others.
“Up until 2012, the Tribunal set a minimum and maximum salary range for each Category and Councils in that Category could opt for a salary within that range.
“However from 2012, the Tribunal discontinued this practice and instead established a single remuneration level. The salaries of Mayors, Deputy Mayors and Councillors are now the same across all Category three Councils,” said Cr Dobie.
When the remuneration schedule is published each year, Councillors are automatically paid the recommended salary levels unless (within 90 days), Council decides by resolution to pay a lesser amount. There is no legislation governing the allocation of funds should Council resolve to pay a lesser amount than the Tribunal’s recommendation.
Cr Dobie pointed out that in the past Councillors have been conflicted on what action to take, because regardless of whether or not Councillors accept the increase, it must be recorded as such in the Budget.
“What this current Council has agreed to do is accept the increases, and reduce expenditure from the operational budget to compensate, by no longer reimbursing Councillors for travel expenses. This has resulted in an increase in the total salary application of approximately $13,000, but a decrease in expenditure of approximately $17,000.
“Clearly, Queensland Councils do not determine their salary levels; this is done by the Tribunal. Councils have the option of making submissions each year to the Tribunal; however, have no control over the recommended salary level.
“The Tribunal also accepts submissions from the public. These submissions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I would also point out that Councillors regularly use their own private vehicles to attend community events and meetings and do not claim reimbursement of expenses.
“Additionally, Councillors pay their own way to the many events and other social functions they attend throughout each year,” emphasised Cr Dobie.