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ACC likely to adopt new remuneration system

Auckland City Council likely to adopt new remuneration system

Auckland City Council is likely to move to the new system of remuneration for elected members as of 1 July 2003.

The Higher Salaries Commission has independently reviewed the way elected members are remunerated and have promulgated a system which is based on a capped pool of funds, determined by the size and characteristics of the city, and therefore the responsibilities of elected members.

The council’s Finance and Corporate Business and Strategy and Governance Committees met jointly today to examine the recommendations of the Commission and the remuneration modelling prepared by council officers. The joint committee has referred the issue to the full council meeting tomorrow night and signalled a preference to adopt the new system from 1 July 2003.

The new remuneration system will cost an additional $360,000, compared to the current system. This is a 16 per cent increase.

The total cost of the new remuneration system is expected to be $2,173,223, to be paid from the council’s operating budget. The amount includes a capped remuneration pool of $1,501,060 set by the Commission and $672,163 budgeted to separately fund attendance at statutory hearings, to pay half the Community Board Member salaries from outside the pool, as directed by the Commission, and to cover elected members’ expense reimbursements.

The chairperson of the Finance and Corporate Business Committee, Councillor Douglas Armstrong, and the chairperson of the Strategy and Governance Committee, Councillor Mark Donnelly, say, "The new remuneration system is based on the recommendations of the Commission following their independent review which took into account the size and governing responsibilities of Auckland City, as opposed to other local authorities.

“Auckland is New Zealand’s largest city. It is also one of the country’s fastest growing cities. The new remuneration system proposed by the commission takes this into account. The new system also removes politics from the remuneration system.

"The joint committee supported adopting the system as of 1 July 2003 as this was the commission's preference and the council agreed the system was best put in place prior to the upcoming local body elections in October 2004.”

The joint committee has also recommended the council adopt the following annual salaries:

Deputy Mayor $59,663 Chair, Major Committee $59,663 Chair, Minor Committee and Shareholders Representative Group $44,732 Councillor $29,831 Chair, Community Board (Isthmus) $17,098 Member, Community Board (Isthmus) $8,381 Chair, Community Board (Gulf Islands) $14,243 Member, Community Board (Gulf Islands) $5,168

The Commission has set a new salary of up to $143,382 for the Auckland City Mayor. This reflects the size and responsibilities of leading New Zealand’s largest city.

The joint committee also recommended continuing with the practice of paying councillors meeting fees. The joint committee believes councillors should receive $100 per meeting, up to a maximum of two meetings per day. Attendance is required for a minimum of 50 per cent of the duration of the meeting or two hours, whichever is the lesser, to qualify for the payment. Councillors are currently eligible to receive one $195 meeting payment per day.

“The salaries for the Deputy Mayor, chairs and councillors, have been determined using exactly the same weightings as the current remuneration system. The real increases are therefore a direct result of the increased pool set by the commission.”

"A remuneration system that comprises meeting fees for councillors, as opposed to straight salaries, results in a more even distribution of the money among all councillors and ensures an uneven amount of money is not given to only committee chairs. It also recognises the importance of councillors attending meetings."

Finally, the joint committee has recommended the council also approve an updated expense policy for councillors and community board members. The main change relates to the reimbursement of vehicle mileage.

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