Tweed Councillors have unanimously agreed that they will apply to become a Regional Strategic Area, an outcome that could pave the way for an increase in remuneration for Tweed Councillors and Mayor.
The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal Submission makes an annual determination on the fees for councillors. As part of the 2022 review, ‘the Tribunal will consider any requests to review the categorisation of individual councils if there is a strong case to do so,’ said the staff report to the Tweed Shire Council meeting on 3 February.
‘This is a submission to the state government about what category Council is in terms of classification for councils and their size,’ said Mayor Chris Cherry (Independent).
Currently the Tweed Shire is considered a Regional Centre and Cr Cherry emphasised that the time and commitment to being a councillor for the Tweed was considerable.
Cr Nola Firth also recognised that ‘remuneration does affect who stands for the council [with an impact on whether] people are in a position to stand or not’.
General Manager of Tweed Shire Council Troy Green told the meeting that the change in classification can help not only with remuneration but also in the grant funding and other projects.
‘I think when you look at Tweed and where it sits in its complexity, if there was not on the Queensland border, we would have that additional category, and that’s part of our argument.
‘The other thing I’d say to counsellors is to be mindful of the fact that each of you are not only counsellors, but you also really oversee the water and wastewater authority. And then alone is significant… There are councils in Western Sydney that have a higher categorization and they don’t have the same financial responsibilities as yourselves’ or ‘have to manage some of the risks that you each manage. You also have a major waste facility and resource recovery centre to mange.’
Mr Green points out that when the last upgrade in categorisation had been applied for the council had made submissions over ‘seven to eight years’ before the upgrade was achieved.
‘I think we’ve certainly got an obligation to put forward, to the state government, and to try to highlight the responsibilities the size, the size of council so that we’re not we’re not forgotten. And we have seen in the past that we have been forgotten. When they were doing regional cities, they were going to identify Lismore as the regional city centre of Northern Rivers. With no disrespect to Lismore, but it’s less than half our size.
‘While that mindset is in Macquarie Street we’ve got some obligation to remind them that Tweed has evolved, and continues to evolve, and that economic powerhouse that it can be for the state.’