Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie has criticised speculation surrounding the council's decision to accept a pay rise in December, after the debate reignited on social media this week.
Southern Downs Mayor Tracy Dobie has criticised speculation surrounding the council's decision to accept a pay rise in December, after the debate reignited on social media this week. Sophie Lester

Residents fired up over defence of councillors pay rise

MAYOR Tracy Dobie has discredited social media speculation about councillors' pay.

The council resolved to accept the pay rise of 2% in December, after the recommendation was handed down by the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal.

Cr Dobie issued a release yesterday and said it was time to put the record straight about councillors' remuneration.

"There has recently been commentary on Facebook as well as a letter to the editor in a local newspaper about councillors' pay rises and remuneration which is simply wrong," she said. 

""Up until 2012, the Tribunal set a minimum and maximum salary range for each Category and Councils in that Category could opt for a salary within that range.

"From 2012, the Tribunal discontinued this practice and instead established a single remuneration level.

"The salaries of mayors, deputy mayors and councillors are now the same across all category three councils.

"What this current Council has agreed to do is accept the increases, and reduce expenditure from the operational budget to compensate, by no longer reimbursing councillors for travel expenses.

"This has resulted in an increase in the total salary application of approximately $13,000 but a decrease in expenditure of approximately $17,000."

Southern Downs residents were fired up following the release yesterday and took to Facebook to criticise the move by the council.

Tim Scheele speculated the move was "a sign of guilt, for not doing the best for the region and the people.

"Think it might be time to listen to what people are saying and what they want," he wrote.

"Frankly you couldn't pay me enough to put up with the crap they put up with," Lyn Prowse-Bishop wrote.

"Why did you seek to remove the step in the process where you have to vote to accept or refuse the recommendation of the renumeration tribunal?," Andrew Gale wrote.    

Darryl Evans wrote the public were aware councillors do not set their own salary, but took issue with councillors accepting a pay rise when they were not obligated to accept it.

He suggested fewer councillors could offer greater divisional representation while still achieving savings.

"At no stage are councillors forced to accept a payrise offered, a fact the Mayor acknowledged whist contradicting herself," Mr Evans wrote.

"Second, the Mayor and Councillors are not public servants looking for a paypacket, but civically minded people offering their love of community, willing to share themselves for the community and a desire to serve the community.

"All this self justification for a payrise goes to show the ordinary citizen is they are there for the money.

"If the mayor was genuine her savings of money for the community as she claimed, we could have 4 councillors representing 4 divisions and drop 4 councillors saving us about $240,000 a year." 


Adam Colrain, who was an unsuccessful candidate in last year's council election, also took to social media to express his concern. 

"What is not mentioned in this article is that councillors are only acceptable at election time," he said.
"They do not have to work to performance indicators, nor report on a monthly basis activities undertaken."

When the remuneration schedule is published each year, councillors are automatically paid the recommended salary levels unless the council decides by resolution to pay a lesser amount within 90 days. There is no legislation governing the allocation of funds should council resolve to pay a lesser amount than the Tribunal's recommendation.

Cr Dobie said in the past the councillors have been conflicted on what action to take, because regardless of whether or not Councillors accept the increase, it must be recorded as such in the budget.

"Clearly, Queensland Councils do not determine their salary levels; this is done by the Tribunal," Cr Dobie said.

"Councils have the option of making submissions each year to the Tribunal; however, have no control over the recommended salary level."

Public submissions to the tribunal can also be sent to enquiries@lg.remunerationtribunal.qld.gov.au.

For the full statement from Mayor Dobie, go to sdrc.qld.gov.au



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