Councillors have defended their 2.5 per cent pay-packet increase and hit out at the wages of their city counterparts.
Representatives on metropolitan council can earn up more than twice as much as regional and rural councillors.
Russell Webb said metropolitan councillors’ pay was “grossly unfair” compared to the work of regional local government representatives.
“Take a metropolitan council, what do they actually produce which is nation-building?” he said.
Cr Webb said regional councils support the economy of the state.
“Those councils look after roads and rubbish and gutters,” he said.
“They do not, predominantly, have water, do not have an airport, do not have dams they are involved in, they do not have the responsibility that we have as a regional council in NSW.”
Mark Rodda hit back at “snout in the trough” remarks spotted online.
“I reckon for NSW councillors, that couldn’t be further from the truth,” he said.
“I think it’s unfair to make comments like that unless you’re willing to do the job and do it gratis.”
Councillors in Tamworth will now take home $19,310 a year for their local government work, with Col Murray pulling a fee of $42,120 on top of his annual remuneration as a councillor.
Cr Rodda said the remuneration ensures council attracts a “good cross-section” of the community.
“With this job, some weeks it can be 10 hours, some 30 to 40 or more,” he said.
“If I was to work an average of 20 hours a week on council issues, whether it’s returning phone calls or talking to constituents, it was only, after tax, $15.40 an hour, that’s less than my day job.”
Councillors north of the border get an even sweeter deal than representatives in Sydney, according to Cr Rodda.
“I’ve got a friend who is a councillor with quite a large council in Queensland and he gets $140,000 councillor allowance, probably more than that now,” he said.
“He gets a car and a personal assistant, obviously it’s to be treated like a full-time job.”
Juanita Wilson hammered home the pay-gap between the city and the country.
“It just intrigues me that someone, somewhere dictates that metropolitans are worth more than regionals and that stands true in almost every level of government,” she said.
For the youngest councillor in the chambers, Charles Impey, sticking his hand up for local government wan’t about the moolah.
“It wasn’t my reason for standing,” he said.
“I just love the place I live in, it’s a cliche but that’s the way it is.”
He did move to clear up a misconception he’d heard in the community about the pay rise.
“I did talk to someone who thought the figure was going to be doubling,” Cr Impey said.
“I’m not sure where they got their figures from, social media I would suggest, maybe we need to ensure the news that goes out is absolutely plain and simple.”