Pay cut no small matter: council

May 11, 2017
North Shore Times
Declan Byrne

Decision to ‘downgrade’ Willoughby classification means councillors will be paid nearly 20 per cent less

WILLOUGHBY councillors have united to condemn a pay cut handed to them that will see their annual fees reduced by almost 20 per cent.

The decision was made last month at the Local Government Remuneration Tribunal, with the City of Willoughby being “downgraded” from the “metropolitan centre” category, to the newly-created “metropolitan small” division.

Presently, Willoughby councillors receive $23,950 but under the new scheme they would be paid a maximum of $19,310 annually.

The news is worse for Mayor Gail Giles-Gidney, who will see her annual fee drop from $63,640 a year to $42,120 – a reduction of almost 34 per cent.

Cr Lynne Saville led the frustration with the decision. “We have a budget of $130 million … I find this decision deeply disconcerting,” she said.

“Coming so close to the elections, I worry this decision will put people off running for local council, especially young people.”

She was backed by Cr Hugh Eriksson. “None of us do it for the money,” he said.

“It’s not a passing comment, because no one could do it for the money.” Cr Stuart Coppock branded the rationale behind the categorisations “bizarre” while questioning whether the population figures used in the decision-making process were accurate.

Willoughby narrowly missed out on being classed as a “metropolitan medium” council, with the requirements being a minimum population of 100,000 or a total operating revenue exceeding $100 million a year.

Its current population was thought to be around 90,000 but it had a total revenue of almost $140 million.

Other factors that could see a council bumped up to medium included providing services to greater Sydney including major education, health, retail, sports, other recreation and cultural facilities and high population growth. Willoughby sat alongside Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Mosman and North Sydney in the “small” category while neighbours Kuring-gai and Ryde fell into the “medium” category.

Council resolved to write to Premier Gladys Berejiklian branding the categories’ rationale as “unacceptable”, while saying the population figures were “misleading”.

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