What are our councillors and mayors worth?
THE wages of Kyogle councillors were recently deemed "among the lowest paid in Australia" so we've taken a look at how the other councils in the region stack up.
A report seeking to determine the level of councillor remuneration for the 2019/2020 financial year was recently on the agenda for each LGA in the region.
A misconception that local councillors and mayors get a fat pay packet was entirely disproved at Monday night's Kyogle Council meeting.
In fact, councillor Lindsay Passfield said being a rural councillor in New South Wales was considered "a volunteer job" and "among the lowest paid in Australia".
"The level of remuneration for rural NSW councillors is a mere pittance compared to other states where it can actually be a job," Cr Passfield said.
"From memory, in Victoria the mayor gets about $74,000 a year. I do about two days a week in this role and I reckon it works out to be about $5 an hour."
At the meeting, Kyogle councillors decided to fix and adopt the maximum local Government Remuneration Tribunal Councillor Fees, equating to a 2.5 per cent increase which comes into effect on July 1.
Kyogle councillors are now set to be paid the maximum of $12,160 and the maximum for Mayor Danielle Mulholland of $26,530, bringing her wage to a total of $38,690.
Mayor Mulholland said she would raise the issue of councillor payments again with NSW Deputy premier John Barilaro.
Kyogle Council is defined as a rural council.
But Ballina Shire Council, Byron Shire Council, Lismore City Council and Richmond Valley Council are all defined as regional rural councils, meaning councillors get paid substantial more.
All of the four councils recently adopted the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal fee (an increase of 2.5 per cent increase) for 2019/2020 - which will bring the councillors annual wage to $20,280 and with an additional fee of $44,250, the mayor's wage will go up to $64,530.
The increase works out to be just under $1000 for councillors and just over $3000 for the mayors from the 2017/2018 fees.
Byron Shire Council Deputy Mayor Michael Lyon agreed the wages could be better.
"I personally don't need the money... council is a community service for me, but in terms of how much work it is to do it properly its less than minimum wage for sure.
"We don't get super or workers comp or holiday pay or anything like that."
Mr Lyon said as deputy mayor he did not get an additional fee.
"I have a right to it, I filled in for three months and could have taken it, but given the circumstance I didn't," he said.
"We have lobbied in the past for a raise, most recently at both national and state conference of local governments. Byron has put motions forward for those associations to lobby the State Government for an increase but the Premier most recently said it was not on the agenda.
"I'm not sure if we will go to the effort of actually passing the motion ourselves but it's on our books and we support it."
Richmond Valley General Manager Vaughan Macdonald said "it was a long held view across NSW Local Government that the time and contribution made by many councillors is under-valued".
"This was confirmed by the Independent Local Government Review Panel when it handed down its final report in 2013," Mr Macdonald said.
"Mayors and councillors put in many hours to fulfil their roles and are available to the community at all times. The Richmond Valley Council Mayor would attend, on average, between 20-30 civic or community events a month."
Mr Macdonald said Richmond Valley Mayor Robert Mustow had no plans to pursue this issue with the NSW Government.