Why Ballina councillors want to be paid more
FOR $20,000 a year would you attend multiple community meetings, read reams of paper, and take the time to respond to every single person who wanted to talk about their issues?
That's what Ballina Shire councillors are expected to do every day, and they're hoping to make some changes to how much their paid for their efforts.
Ballina Shire councillors are paid $20,280 annually while councillors in comparable sized councils in Victoria are paid up to $25,730, or up to $69,372 in Queensland.
The council has supported a plan to write to the NSW Local Government Remuneration Tribunal's 2020 Annual Review, which is assessing whether councillors are paid a fair wage.
After asking community members what they thought he was getting paid for his council role, Cr Nathan Willis said most residents assumed he was receiving an annual wage of $50,000.
"There's councillors around this table that have worked over a decade and when I think about the hours they've given, if they were in another role, the money they would get would be very different," Cr Willis said.
While most councillors agreed they were fortunate enough to afford the time needed to work in local government, Cr Sharon Cadwallader said if the wage was higher more people might be inclined to run for council.
"The majority of councillors are over 45 years old; younger people can't afford to be councillors," she said.
"There's a lot of people who would love to be on council, including single mums and indigenous people.
"If someone is paid a basic wage and something to survive on then it's open to all people.
"A lot of people think you get paid a proper wage, they don't know it actually costs you more than you get paid to be a councillor.
"It's not that we want all pay risers, it's because we're here because we want to be here.
"We don't rely on the small pay we get because you can't."
While Cr Phillip Meehan supported the idea of the State Government creating a new category of Regional Centre to include Ballina, he said he was opposed to writing to the tribunal about increasing councillor wages.
He said many people in the community who were struggling financially could be critical of councillors wishing to increase their own wages.
"My view is that NSW Local Government is going to make a submission on this matter, and we should show good faith to let that happen," Cr Meehan said.