DISCUSSION: Deputy Mayor Jan Chambers, Cr Peter Flynn, Cr Puddy Chandler and Cr David Schefe in the council chamber.
DISCUSSION: Deputy Mayor Jan Chambers, Cr Peter Flynn, Cr Puddy Chandler and Cr David Schefe in the council chamber. Christian Berechree

Councillors vote to give themselves a pay rise

THE majority of Maranoa councillors voted to give themselves a pay rise at the first council meeting of 2019.

Seven of the nine councillors voted to increase their annual pay packets by 2.1 per cent, with mayor Tyson Golder and councillor Geoff McMullen the only two to vote against the biennial wage boost.

Deputy mayor Jan Chambers stood her ground on the majority of council's decision to approve the pay rise.

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The mayor told the Western Star he was adamant the increase should not go ahead this time, citing hardship across the region as the catalyst for his decision.

"To me, there is quite a bit of struggle in the community and I have thought long and hard about this," Cr Golder said.

"I certainly understand the Maranoa is going through some tough economic times and I believe, as councillors, my view is that the tribunal makes the decision on a possible pay rise, but as a council we can decide not to adopt that pay rise.

"I think that was a prudent matter to have happened in the Maranoa, and it is why I voted against it this week."

The vote followed the biennial review of councillors' pay packets, conducted by the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal.

This will boost Cr Golder's annual salary to $130,584, deputy mayor Jan Chamber's salary to $81,615 and the rest of the councillors to $69,372 from July 1 this year.

Cr Golder has been often outspoken in his views on financial matters in council, but said he stands by them one hundred per cent.

"As I speak in my personal opinion, I would also like to have a rates freeze," he said.

"Now is the time to have a freeze in remuneration, and I think it is the best position we have."

However, most councillors disagree with the mayor, and have said the issue is not so black-and-white.

The pay scale for councillors is reviewed by the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal every two years, and copious amounts of investigation and auditing go into the decision from the body, said Deputy Mayor, Cr Jan Chambers.

"The figures that the tribunal sets are reflective of the time and the workload involved to undertake the role of a councillor in a category three Council," she said.

"There are a number of categories for remuneration, which reflect the workload and activity in the region, and we are in a category three based on that.

"The tribunal look at all of our activities to establish what councils should be in what categories.

"It is a very complex process that is very seriously looked at."

Historically, the majority of Australia's local and regional councils have followed the recommendations of the external body, which determine salaries for councillors in each of Queensland's local government areas.

"On all occasions in this term of council, up until yesterday, the vote to note the findings of the tribunal has been a unanimous decision; nine-zero, even when the tribunal took our council from a category two to a category three," Cr Chamber said.

"My take on it is that the vote yesterday appears to maybe be politics at play as we head towards an election in 2020," she said.

What are your thoughts on the Maranoa Regional Council voting in favour of a 2.1 per cent pay increase? Let us know at editorial@westerstarnews.com.au