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Image: Clarence Valley Council annual report 2018-2019

Tribunal flags category change for CVC and possible pay rise for councillors

Geoff Helisma|

The Local Government Remuneration Tribunal (LGMT) has flagged the creation of a new, extra category for councils in regional NSW – ‘Regional Centre’ – which could include Clarence Valley Council (CVC).

At next week’s CVC meeting, councillors will consider staff’s recommendation to support the proposal, nominate for inclusion and accept the associated councillor “remuneration band … [which] is halfway between the categories [on] either side, being Regional Strategic Area and Regional Rural”.

Clarence Valley Council is currently a Regional Rural council.

Apart from its annual review of fees paid to councillors, the local Government Act compels the LGRT to review the categorisation of councils every three years.

The Local Government Act caps annual increases for councillor and mayors at 2.5 per cent per annum – CVC’s councillors have not accepted a pay increase for the past six years.

The creation of the Regional Centre category, if it is adopted by the tribunal, would also create a new remuneration band, which, the LGMT says, means a “council can be placed in another category with a higher range of remuneration without breaching the government’s wage policy”.

Clarence Valley councillors currently receive an allowance of $17,490; the mayor is paid an extra $35,225 for his mayoral duties (a total of $52, 715) and the deputy mayor is paid an extra $2,935 (a total of $20,425).

The potential remuneration bands for councils in the proposed Regional Centre category are from $14,150 to $25,475 for councillors and between an extra $30,100 and $68,080 for the mayor – the extra paid to the deputy mayor is deducted from the total mayoral allowance.

Councillors will make a decision about any increases, or not, to their allowances after the tribunal makes its determination by May 1, 2020.

The LGRT’s proposed classification model for Regional Centre councils says it would typically have a minimum population of 40,000 and nominates other relevant features that may include having:

  • a large city or town providing significant proportion of the region’s housing and employment;
  • the provision of a full range of high order services including business, office and retail uses with arts, culture, recreation and entertainment centres;
  • health and tertiary education services and major regional airports that service the surrounding and wider regional community;
  • a total operating revenue exceeding $100m per annum;
  • a degree of economic activity within the council area characterised by a gross state product exceeding $2b;
  • among the highest rates of population growth in NSW;
  • significant visitor numbers to establish tourism ventures and major events that attract state and national attention; and
  • a proximity to Sydney that generates economic opportunities.

Councillors were consulted on the proposal at their November 12 workshop.