Friday 16 December 2011

Cr Cochrane silent on pay adjustment

Cairns regional councillors face pay cut

Daniel Strudwick
Friday, December 16, 2011
© The Cairns Post

 Pay debate: Cairns Mayor Val Schier will be awarded a pay rise under new guidelines but her fellow councillors face a pay cut.

MAYOR Val Schier's salary will rise almost $12,000 next year, but her fellow councillors will cop a pay cut after repeatedly awarding themselves the highest possible pay rises in previous years. 

Cairns Regional councillors’ annual pay packets will drop from $95,720 to $91,207 in 2012 because of changes to the assessment of local government wages. The pay cut comes as federal politicians bring in wage hikes, including a $49,200 increase to the salary of Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch.

The new system means Cairns councillors won’t be able to give themselves raises like the one they signed off on last year – a 2.5 per cent increase even though the council was running at a loss of $2.2 million and rates were set to go up 3.4 per cent.

Queensland’s Local Government Remuneration Tribunal will now tell all councils how high to raise pay packets each year, rather than offering recommendations and letting councillors choose for themselves. Under the old council pay system abolished this week, councillors were able to set their own annual salary increases from a recommended range of percentages.

And because a majority of Cairns’ councillors voted to give themselves pay rises of the highest order during previous years, they’re now facing a pay cut under the new system, which brings salary increases into line statewide.

The mayor’s pay rise is a result of her decision over previous years to reject annual wage increases while fellow councillors accepted them. "I rejected three pay rises because they were at a time of economic downturn in Cairns when people were losing their jobs and businesses were going bust," Cr Schier said. The new $154,000 salary brings her into line with the mayors of similar sized councils such as Townsville.

Cr Linda Cooper, who chairs CRC’s finance committee and will be paid $4500 less next year, says the new pay model is fairer than the old system.

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