3 July 2023

'Double whammy': Eurobodalla councillors approve pay rise as shire is reclassified

| Claire Sams
Start the conversation
Council building

Eurobodalla Mayor Mathew Hatcher said he was confident the councillors’ pay increase would not put financial stress on the shire council. Photo: Eurobodalla Shire Council.

Eurobodalla Shire Council has voted in favour of a pay rise, with councillors calling for independent decisions on future increases.

The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal has determined a 3 per cent increase in councillor and mayoral pay for the 2023-24 financial year.

As part of the tribunal’s review of council pays, Eurobodalla Council was also moved from the Regional Rural category into the Regional Centre category.

Mayor Mathew Hatcher said it was a “double whammy” that both were put to the council at the same time.

“We voted on a 3 per cent increase [to our pay], but we were also reclassified,” he said.

“That’s why it’s quite a jump.”

The tribunal must review the remuneration categories councils are in at least every three years, with pay for councillors and mayors depending on the category.

In the Regional Centre category, the maximum amount councillors can now be paid is $26,070, while the mayor’s maximum fee is $64,390, according to the meeting agenda.

The Regional Rural categories had maximums of $21,730 for councillors and $47,420 for the mayor.

The new pays came into effect on Saturday (1 July).

READ ALSO Goulburn teenagers up for learning from Kokoda Trail trek

A September budget variation of $59,506 will be needed to cover the increase, according to the meeting agenda.

Mayor Hatcher told About Regional that the council was not planning on raising rates to cover the extra cost.

“The $59,000 does sound like a lot, but spread amongst nine people and with a budget of 160 million, it’s a very small thing to work through,” he said.

“As a council, we did work through that in briefing to make sure that the increase wasn’t going to put a further burden on council.

“The money is something that the council is going to have to find, but we’ve been assured by the general manager [Warwick Winn] that it’s not an ongoing concern.”

Councils cannot pay a higher or lower figure than the maximum or minimum set amount, respectively, for their category.

Mayor Hatcher said the move into the Regional Centre category did not come with extra resources for the council.

“It’s really just the way they classify us based on population,” he said.

“The No. 1 thing to understand is we’ve grown in population to over 40,000 people since the latest Census, and we are expecting the increase to be higher than what was projected many years ago.

“That’s due to a lot of people moving from the cities down to the regional areas.”

He said that a larger population meant Eurobodalla Council was serving more people with the same number of councillors.

“I believe it’s the right number that we’ve got here,” Mayor Hatcher said.

“But as we continue to grow, we’re having to really relook at the future of the shire with everything from master planning to infrastructure for sewerage and water.”

READ ALSO Daryl Maguire charged with giving false and misleading evidence to ICAC

Mayor Hatcher said there was discomfort among the councillors that they were voting on their own pay.

“All councillors agree that we should not be, as a council, voting on our own wages,” he said.

“We have asked – and we will continue to ask forever and ever until it’s changed – for the State Government to be the ones that decide the wages.”

He said the pay increase would hopefully mean people from more diverse backgrounds would put their names on the ballot and run for council.

“[At lower pay] we’re going to end up with councillors who are either retired and maybe not relying as much on it, or they’re forced to carry on second jobs to supplement their income and not focus on the role,” he said.

“What I’m hoping this does is it makes it possible for people who were on the fence about running or not, it puts them into a position to be able to.”

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.