Thursday, 03 December 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

COVID-19 hits pay packets of TCDC mayor and senior managers

Thames-Coromandel District Council has confirmed that the organisation’s top executives will be part of a widespread pay freeze introduced to help cut operational costs and minimise rates increases during the current financial year.

Public sector pay - particularly for those in senior roles - came under intense scrutiny during the COVID-19 lockdown with a raft of national and local government bodies announcing pay freezes or in some cases cuts. A freeze on wages across TCDC, along with a reduction in recruitment, saved council an estimated $1.16m this year and helped halve a proposed 10 percent rates hike to just under five percent.

TCDC disclosed that, in the year to June 2019, chief executive, Rob Williams, earned a total of $363,954, which included both financial and non-financial benefits. This was up from $345,835 in 2018.

Council’s Annual Report for the year to June 2020, which contains detailed personnel costs, has not yet been made public, however, figures released a year ago showed a further six senior staff were at that time earning between $180,000 and $239,000, six received between $140,000 and $179,000, 13 were paid between $120,000 and $139,000 and 15 had a salary between $100,000 and $119,999. In total council had 219 full and part time-employees, 82 of whom earned less than $60,000. Total staff related costs came to $17.5m.

TCDC confirmed to The Informer that its chief executive along with the organisation’s four group managers, who are described as holding “tier two” positions reporting directly to Mr Williams, would be among those subject to the pay freeze. These are senior roles with overall responsibility for four specific areas of council activity - Communications and Economic Development, Operations, Strategy and Governance/Corporate Services. The two Area Managers - North and South - are also included in the pay freeze.

For privacy reasons council would not provide exact amounts paid for specific roles other than the chief executive which is matter of public record. While Communications and Economic Development Group Manager, Laurna White, confirmed the potential “salary range” for group managers is $137,845 to $204,847 and the area manager salary range is $136,014 - $160,017, she would not give any further indication of where within those scales the current salaries sit.

Pay for elected members - including mayors, councillors and community board chairs - is independently set by the Remuneration Authority and details are publicly available. New legislation has been introduced allowing the authority to temporarily reduce salaries for six months in response to COVID-19. However, only those earning in excess of $100,000 are subject to any reduction. Therefore, in the Thames-Coromandel District, only Mayor Sandra Goudie will be impacted having $3,250 taken off her $130,000 salary, which has already been increased by $4,000 when compared to council’s previous financial year. 

Payments for other councillors vary depending on whether they sit on any committees. This financial year, Deputy Mayor Murray McClean will earn $65,226, two other councillors will get $61,226, one will receives $55,226, with a further three on $46,069. The remainder councillor will receive a salary of $35,226. Additional fees are paid for attendance at certain meetings, along with expenses for costs such as travel.

TCDC, the mayor and councillors have no role in determining elected members’ remuneration.

Pictured: Mayor, Sandra Goudie.

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