Byron Shire’s mayors and councillors have suffered from a ‘longstanding undervaluation’ of their work and should receive significantly more than the four per cent increase they are offered each year, Byron Council’s General Manager Mark Arnold has told the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal (LGRT).
Arnold made the comments in a letter to the tribunal in relation to its annual process of determining fees payable to councillors and mayors.
In the letter, tabled along with a Council resolution to be discussed at this week’s meeting, Arnold acknowledged that Byron Council had recently been recategorised as a Regional Centre, paving the way for councillors to access higher rates of pay.
The maximum a councillor can receive under this new categorisation is $25,310 per annum, up from $21,100.
The maximum pay that the mayor can be given has increased from $46,040 to $52,510. On top of their base pay, councillors can earn extra income as committee members and claim other expenses.
Four per cent increase ‘insufficient’
Councillors are also seeking an additional four per cent pay increase, the maximum annual increase allowed under NSW legislation.
However, these increases were not sufficient compensation for the hard work councillors do, Arnold said.
‘Notwithstanding [the increases], Council strongly asserts its position that a four per cent increase is insufficient to cope with the rising cost of living, and fails to rectify the longstanding undervaluation of the work carried out by mayors and councillors in NSW,’ Arnold said.
He also sought the recognition of deputy mayors as a distinct category within the local government remuneration framework.
‘Deputy mayors undertake significant responsibilities, including representing the mayor in their absence, chairing committees, and playing a pivotal role in decision-making and advocacy,’ he said.
‘These duties often demand extensive time, effort, and expertise beyond their role as a councillor.’