$44,000 Payrise Sequel

Kapiti Mayor admits Council should have considered public opinion

By Alan Tristram

Kapiti’s Mayor Jenny Rowan has admitted the $44,000 pay rise for CEO Pat Dougherty (left) has had a ‘negative impact’ on the Council – and says ‘we should have given  public opinion greater consideration.

But she says the KCDC followed a properly structured process

And in a move to regain the initiative, she has raised the idea of a Remuneration Authority for salaries of Local Government Chief Executive Officer salaries in a letter to Local Government New Zealand head Lawrence Yule.

‘Furore’ over pay rates

Ms Rowan says the furore around pay rates for CEOs in the public sector has raised several issues, including:

  • Lack of knowledge surrounding how pay rates in the Local Government sector are fixed.
  • Their relativity with the private sector.
  • The processes being followed for assessing salaries and performance.
  • The relatively small number of CEOs in the Local Government sector; and the substantial and wide spread responsibilities of Local Government CEOs.

Mayor Rowan says: “There is no doubt at all that the current public debate on CE salaries has had a negative impact on my Council.

“The debate has raised a number of issues, however. For instance, what are the processes being followed by the various Territorial Authorities; how are relativities being established; are they relevant; and what processes are being followed in the assessment of performance?”

‘Followed process’

The Mayor goes on to say: “We took external professional advice during our pay and performance assessment last year. Though we followed a properly structured process, it is clear that we should have given the impact of public opinion greater consideration.

“We are all aware that the Remuneration Authority sets the pay rates for Members of Parliament and that process is independent of the MPs.

“The question arises: is there an argument for something similar for Local Government CEs that still reflects the unique communities in which each one of those CEs operates?

“I am not saying we should go down this path. However, given the current high level of debate, such an idea might be worth exploring.”

Mayor Rowan has also raised the issue in a letter to Local Government Minister Nick Smith.

It would appear to the community that any such thought of a salary increase for any CE should incorporate a community assestment (to be ascertained) as to how projects have been successful or not, on both a financial and structural basis, before coming to any decision of a stipendary is made by Council.