NOT all Opotiki councillors are thrilled to receive a pay rise with one querying whether they can refuse the increase and another concerned about the impact on ratepayers.

Salaries for the mayor, deputy mayor, councillors and community board members will increase by between 2 and 27 percent on July 1 with further increases due after the October local body election.

The pay increases were discussed at a meeting last week with Arihia Tuoro querying whether the rise could be rejected. She was told councils did not get a choice in the matter.

“They get set for us, by an authority, and then we have to receive it even though the decision has already been made,” said deputy mayor Lyn Riesterer.

Barry Howe also had reservations. “I hate to see any increase that affects ratepayers,” he said.

“I’m here for the community, not the money. If this was just us giving ourselves a pay rise, I would vote against it.”

Pay rises for council elected members are decided by the New Zealand Remuneration Authority, which also decides the salaries for central government positions.

This year the authority has determined a “remuneration pool” for deputy mayor and councillors, based on the council’s ranking on a size index basis.

Prior to the election, this pool will be $180,150, from which the council determines how best the pay is divided. Post-election, the proposed pool is almost $30,000 more at $211,968 meaning further salary increases.

The whole pool must be used and divided among councillors and the deputy mayor, according to the Remuneration Authority.

Other regulations also apply, as outlined in a report presented by finance, systems and property group manager Michael Homan.

In the report, changes to pay rates from July 1 were revealed as follows:
Mayor John Forbes will receive $82,856, an increase of 10 percent, including an unchanged vehicle allowance of $3382.38.

After the election, the new mayor will receive $98,000.

Deputy mayor Ms Riesterer will receive $42,567, an increase of 10 percent. The incoming deputy mayor will receive $50,084

The audit and risk committee chairperson will receive $40,382, an increase of 10 percent.

After the election, the appointed chairperson of this committee will receive $47,514.

The Coast community board chairperson will receive $34,278, which includes their councillor salary – an increase of 27 percent. After the election, this salary will increase to $38,571.

Councillors will receive $24,300, an increase of 18 percent. After the election, the salaries for incoming councillors will be $28,593.

Coast community board members will receive $4989, an increase of 2 percent. The same salary will apply after the election.

These figures are only accurate assuming the council retains the same structure as pre-election.