Political pay cuts moved on

Kāpiti elected members will have the determination of any pay cuts for local politicians made by the Remuneration Authority.

Local Government NZ had welcomed the introduction of legislation this morning that will allow the Remuneration Authority to consider pay cuts for local government elected members, in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

In April, LGNZ asked that the Government give the Remuneration Authority the power and appropriate tools to set fair pay levels for elected members, given the challenging economic circumstances posed by COVID-19.

“The Remuneration Authority is the right agency to undertake look at what changes can be made as they can take a broad look at the economic factors, levels of pay within the sector and the outcomes of any reductions as a total whole,” says LGNZ President Dave Cull.

The proposed changes for the Remuneration Authority come alongside changes for central government MPs, who have sought a pay temporary reduction, however the pay levels between central and local government elected members vary greatly.

Pay levels across New Zealand’s 78 local councils vary greatly from over $290,000 a year on the top end, to around just $2,000 for some rural community board members. In addition, local government elected members do not receive superannuation, sick leave, holiday pay or transition pay at the conclusion of their term.

Although local government elected members have been unable to take pay cuts, many have opted to donate some of their salary to local charities or support providers.

“Elected member pay by and large is quite modest – only mayors are recognised as full-time, but we know a lot of elected members put in long hours. We’re mindful, and we are sure the Remuneration Authority will be too, that many members wouldn’t even be on minimum wage and it wouldn’t be fair to inflict hardship upon them or their families.”

Mr Cull says the workload for many elected members has only grown since the lockdown started, as they are actively involved in their local CDEM teams, community support groups, and obviously their own council as they work through issues in their communities and regions on a daily basis.

“We’re confident that the Remuneration Authority will look at all these factors when making their decision.”