Councillor pockets get silver lining

Barry Leddicoat

TOOWOOMBA Regional councillors look poised to accept a pay rise that would boost Mayor Paul Antonio's annual salary by $3771 to $154,636.

All elected Queensland local governments representatives are in line for the 2.5 per cent boost.

The decision on whether TRC councillors will accept it will be made at council's first meeting of the year on Tuesday.

The statewide changes made by the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal would mean councillors' salaries would rise $2229 to $91,376.

Deputy Mayor Mike Williams would receive $2572 extra, bringing his annual pay to $105,434.

Councils in the past have independently controlled their own pay rates, potentially opening them to claims of self-interest and fierce criticism from ratepayers.

Mayor Paul Antonio said the current modus operandi, established with the tribunal's formation in 2007, took a weight off his mind.

"It is never easy to sit in judgment of yourself and in the past that has caused a lot of angst in the community," he said.

"The important thing is that this is set by an independent tribunal.

"There are only very exceptional circumstances that would vary those recommendations.

"We would have to apply, and I can't see any reason why we would."

Which of the current councillors do you think deserves a pay rise?

This poll ended on 17 February 2013.

Mayor Paul Antonio - 13%

Deputy Mayor Mike Williams - 8%

Cr Bill Cahill - 8%

Cr Geoff McDonald - 7%

Cr Ros Scotney - 3%

Cr Carol Taylor - 4%

Cr John Gouldson - 3%

Cr Anne Glasheen - 3%

Cr Chris Tait - 5%

Cr Sue Englart - 6%

Cr Nancy Sommerfield - 4%

None of them - 28%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

The Toowoomba region remains classed as Category 6, meaning pay rates were on par with similarly-sized councils in Cairns, Mackay, Redlands, Rockhampton and Townsville.

Mayor Antonio said salary was not a consideration when he took on the job, but rejected claims the job should be done for free.

"(People who say that) are wrong," he said.

"We now have a good group of people devoting their entire lives to running this council.

"I don't think it ought to be done for nothing."

Sue Englart, currently sightseeing and visiting former Toowoomba mayor Di Thorley in Tasmania, said she was yet to decide whether she would vote in favour of the remuneration changes.

"This council has been working well, but I know people out there are doing it tough," she said.

"It is a balancing act and we need to weigh it up.

"The cost of living has gone up an extreme amount ... but I will give it due consideration at the time."

A call from The Chronicle yesterday was the first time Cr Carol Taylor had heard of the increase.

"You can't please everyone, but I would have people realise this has been done in a very constructive way," she said.

"The tribunal takes into account how much work is involved, the size of the council and the time it takes if you are doing your job properly.

"I think that should be fair and reasonable."

Cr Bill Cahill famously donated his $20,000 amalgamation bonus to charity in 2009.

There is no word whether he will do the same with his $2229 pay rise this year.

Councillors will be back-paid from January 1 if they opt to accept the rise.

Attempts were made to contact all councillors for comment.

Tribunal chairperson Adrian Bloomfield said the decision took into account last year's 3% increase to Federal Parliamentarian wages and CPI increases over the past 12 months of 1.6 per cent.

He said projected CPI movements in the forthcoming year were also considered.

Toowoomba Regional Councillors' new wages:

  • Mayor Paul Antonio $154,636
  • Dep Mayor Mike Williams $105,434
  • Cr Bill Cahill $91,376
  • Cr Geoff McDonald $91,376
  • Cr Ros Scotney $91,376
  • Cr Carol Taylor $91,376
  • Cr John Gouldson $91,376
  • Cr Chris Tait $91,376
  • Cr Anne Glasheen $91,376
  • Cr Sue Englart $91,376
  • Cr Nancy Summerfield $91,376
  • TOTAL $1,082,454

Expenses and reimbursements
Councillor compensation totalled an extra $215,635 of ratepayers' money last year on:

  • Accommodation allowance
  • Professional development
  • Travel and transfers
  • Council vehicles
  • Meals
  • Hospitality

What will councillors in other areas earn under the new salary scheme? 

  • Barcoo $22,492
  • Blackall-Tambo $22,492
  • Paroo $22,492
  • Balonne $31,630
  • Cloncurry $31,630
  • Murweh $31,630
  • Goondiwindi $45,688
  • Maranoa $45,688
  • North Burnett $45,688
  • Gladstone $59,746
  • Lockyer Valley $59,746
  • Southern Downs $59,746
  • South Burnett $59,746
  • Bundaberg $77,318
  • Western Downs $77,318
  • Cairns $91,376
  • Rockhampton $91,376
  • Toowoomba $91,376
  • Ipswich $105,434
  • Logan $105,434
  • Sunshine Coast $119,491
  • Gold Coast$130,035

Topics:  cpi pay rise remuneration toowoomba regional council

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