Councillors face pay cuts

THE prospect of running in the council election next March is suddenly looking less attractive for those considering putting up their hand, with councillors set to cop an almost 11% pay cut from New Year's Day.

A report by the Queensland Local Government Remuneration Tribunal this week proposed the cuts for "category four" councils, of which Southern Downs Regional Council is one of a dozen.

Councillors will cop the biggest cut and Mayor Ron Bellingham the least, with his $116,917 a year pay packet dropping 6.5% to $109,719.

Deputy Mayor and expectant father Peter Blundell - who this week announced a bid for the top job - will have his current salary cut from $75,773 to $68,575 or 9.5%.

Their seven other colleagues - Councillors Neil Meiklejohn, Ross Bartley, Jo McNally, Denise Ingram, Cameron Gow, Vic Pennisi and Mally McMurtrie - will all drop from earning $65,385 a year to $58,288, a cut of 10.85%.

Special "amalgamation loadings" paid to all our pollies in this first term of the merged Warwick-Stanthorpe regional council, and worth several thousand dollars extra a year, will also disappear from January 1.

The base salary cuts represent a total saving to ratepayers of just under 10% on councillors' pay.

The new remuneration schedule, which will need to be endorsed at the December round of council meetings, involves the setting of a single pay-point for mayors, deputy mayors and councillors across the State.

The present system sets a salary range between two pay points, with individual councils hammering out their preferred deal.

Mayor Ron Bellingham - who has decided he will not run again in 2012 - said yesterday he had not "seen the figures" but had been expecting to see a decreased figure on his pay slip from the start of January.

He conceded not all his colleagues were likely to be happy, but said he felt the Tribunal had "got it right".

"The new way of simply setting a single figure takes the politics out of the process and makes things a lot clearer for everyone involved," Cr Bellingham said.

"It is a drop, but I think we need to remember that for a long, long time in Queensland council representatives were very much worse off than they are today."

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