THE expense of Tamworth councillors is more than double the average of those at similar-sized councils, but local councillors say its a small investment that's been paying huge dividends.
Financial statements reveal councillors expenses were $138,000, while those at similar councils was an average of $62,823.
TRC councillors also spent $37,000 on attending conferences, again more than double the average of other councils ($13,800).
Tamworth mayor Col Murray said it was important for councillors to network with those holding the purse strings.
"In the hard, cold light of day, relationships carry a lot of value," he said.
"One of the really important factors in engaging with other levels of government is about the development of relationships, and how that equates to getting a smoother pathway to grants."
Councillor Russell Webb said the number of conferences attended by TRC councillors had "been paying off quite well for some time".
"As a result we see many benefits coming to the city in terms of state and federal funding," Cr Webb said.
"But those don't come without a lot of work, visits and trips to pull those programs together.
"If you're comparing our expenses to other councils, be sure to look at how much investment we get compared to other places."
The money used to pay councillor expenses and conferences comes from a specific fund set aside for that very purpose, and doesn't take away from other council services.
Cr Murray said most professional businesses set aside money for personal development and council was no different, pointing to the roads conference Cr Jim Maxwell is currently attending in South Australia.
"We have such a large network of roads," Cr Murray said.
"It's almost obligatory to have some level of knowledge about these big-ticket items in our budget."
Tamworth councillors spend nothing on interstate travel, while the average was about $3800, while spending for overseas travel was $3000 compared an average of zero.
TRC's mayor and councillor fees ($216,000) were also slightly below the average ($223,000), and Tamworth general manager Paul Bennett ($338,000) is paid slight above the average ($303,225).