Gunnedah Shire councillors receive 2.5% pay rise

Gunnedah Shire Council GM Eric Groth says the pay difference for councillors between metropolitan and regional areas is significant.
Gunnedah Shire Council GM Eric Groth says the pay difference for councillors between metropolitan and regional areas is significant.

GUNNEDAH councillors have accepted a pay rise – but it’s not enough compared to their metropolitan counterparts, according to council’s most senior bureaucrat. 

Gunnedah Shire Council (GSC) general manager Eric Groth has stood by his elected officials’ decision to unanimously vote in favour of a pay rise at their latest meeting on June 21. 

It follows the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal awarding an annual fee increase of 2.5 per cent, effective from July 1 this year.

The fee change stems from the amalgamation of councils over the past 12 months, which has seen a reduction in the number of councils in NSW from 152 to 128. 

This review did not impact Gunnedah Shire Council being in the Rural category.

The changes will see Gunnedah councillors’ pay go from $11,290 in 2016 to $11,570. The mayor’s pay packet will go from $24,630 to $25,250 on top of his annual remuneration as a councillor.

But Mr Groth insists it’s not much when compared to larger centres, where representatives on metropolitan councils can earn up to more than twice as much as regional and rural councillors.

“I don’t believe (it’s enough),” Mr Groth said.

“If you compare it to Queensland, in the smallest category, a mayor is paid over $100,000 and $50,000 for a councillor.

“It’s not a lot of money. I don’t think the difference (between metropolitan and regional councils) is to scale.

“I doubt councillors in metropolitan councils do more (than what ours do).”

In neighbouring Tamworth (Regional Rural category), councillors will now take home $19,310, while mayor Col Murray will pull a fee of $42,120 on top of his annual remuneration as a councillor – a significant difference to Gunnedah’s rate.

“In rural and regional areas, people stand for council for the benefit of the community,” Mr Groth said.

“Our council is humble and hard-working and don’t always care what they’re being paid. We’re lucky to have anyone stand for council with those fees.”

Tamworth general manager Paul Bennett shared the sentiment.

“The fee payable to councillors is quite small in comparison to the time spent at fortnightly meetings, regular workshops and various events they attend throughout their term,” Mr Bennett said.

“It’s important that councillors don’t walk away from their term feeling as though it has cost them money. Our councillors put in a significant amount of their time to serve the community, and if the payment doesn’t cover the costs associated with this time, we won’t have people putting their hands up.”

Mr Bennett noted the difference between regional and metropolitan areas – with councillors and mayors in the city earning $30,500 and $95,000 respectively.