TAMWORTH councillors will each be paid an annual allowance of $17,060 and allocated $4500 to attend conferences every year during their four-year term.
Mayor Col Murray will be paid $37,230 per year during his term as mayor, as well as the $4500 allocation for conferences, inductions, workshops and professional development; deputy mayor Russell Webb will receive $20,783, plus the conference-attendance allocation.
The allocation is budgeted per councillor; unused funds each financial year are not rolled over.
In addition to that allowance, the nine councillors are each allocated $500 for the attendance of non-council-related events held in the Tamworth Regional Council region.
Councillors who attend the Local Government Association’s annual conference as either voting members or observers are allocated $2000 per year.
And $120 will be put aside each month for each councillor’s mobile phone, as well as $120 for charges for landline phones.
This year the pay of all Tamworth councillors was increased by 2.5 per cent, following a Local Government Remuneration Tribunal review of councillor fees.
Cr Murray said councillors faced a huge task in juggling their council workload, family responsibilities and work commitments as elected representatives of the local community.
“It is a significant time involvement. It is only fair to try to cover the costs involved in undertaking official duties and to try to compensate them for lost earnings,” he said.
Cr Murray said the NSW Local Government Remuneration Tribunal set the schedule of annual fees for councillors and mayors for each category of council in the state.
“In a submission to the tribunal in January this year, the Local Government Association of NSW and the Shires Association of NSW said that, in order to attract qualified people into local government, it was necessary to remunerate them fairly for their time and costs expended,” he said.
“I totally agree.
“Tamworth regional councillors attend two council meetings a month, are representatives on a large number of internal and external committees and are called on to attend a range of civic and community functions – many of which are often after-hours and on weekends.”
Cr Murray said Tamworth councillors also spent a massive amount of time reading and doing research.
“Sometimes there can be 400 pages to be read in preparation for one council meeting,” he said.
“None of the councillors here seek election to gain a financial windfall.
“They put themselves forward because they want to make a contribution to the community.
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable to have the costs incurred as a councillor covered by the payment of an annual fee.”