Southern Downs Regional Council mayor Tracy Dobie.
Southern Downs Regional Council mayor Tracy Dobie. Samantha Bennett

Councillors vote in favour of pay rise

UPDATED:

SOUTHERN Downs councillors have voted unanimously to award themselves a 2.1 per cent pay rise.

Despite the option to forgo the increase, all councillors opted to take the remuneration rise, with several discussing how they would donate the money.

"I know this has been played out in the media, as it is every single year, and because we're heading into election next year we're supposed to do something different. I don't think we should be doing anything different," Deputy Mayor Jo McNally said.

"Our council, I believe, is quite different from most councils throughout Queensland. When I speak to my colleagues at other councils, we get our salaries, remuneration, that is it.

"We do not get travel when we attend events and when we attend events as councillors we pay for them out of our own pocket. We do not get compensated for that.

"Me personally I make many donations to many organisations throughout our region every single year.

"I also, until this term of council, used to drive my own car everywhere but now we have a council vehicle. We work extremely hard and we don't work 9-5.

"Nobody works harder than madam Mayor I can tell you. I'm sure it'll be out there and it won't be popular but I'm happy to move it," Cr McNally said.

The Border Post put the question to the public ahead of the vote, asking whether ratepayers felt the rise was justified.

Of the 602 respondents, 595 people said it wasn't justified while seven people deemed it fair.

The remuneration for all councillors, including mayors and deputy mayors, will come into effect from July 1.

"Councillors have a choice of whether they work hard or they don't work hard," Mayor Tracy Dobie said.

"All the councillors sitting around this table know who goes and represents this council within the region and outside the region at community and sporting and public events.

"We do that because we want to have a good understanding of what the community is thinking. I believe councillors here have a very good understanding of how the community feels.

"There is no other person employed in any other role in this country that is asked about donating their salary or not accepting their salary," Cr Dobie said.

Cr Vic Pennisi, like several other councillors, spoke about donating the extra funds to local causes.

"The alternative is that we forgo this and it goes into general revenue - into the big black hole," he said.

"I've always seen the pay rise as an opportunity to me, to control where I make donations - whether it's the QCWA or the firies or whether it be the church - that gives me total control."

The increase will see Mayor Tracy Dobie's wage increase from $127,898 to $130,584, Deputy Mayor Jo McNally's from $79,936 to $81,615 and the remaining seven councillors would see a jump from $67,945 to $69,372.

The 2.1 per cent increase is on top of a 2.25 per cent rise passed last year.

EARLIER:

A DECISION on whether Southern Downs councillors receive a pay rise is due to go to a vote tomorrow.

Councillors will vote to forgo a pay rise or to give themselves an increase which would come into effect from July 1.

The Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal has decided to increase the maximum level of remuneration for all councillors, including mayors and deputy mayors, by 2.1 per cent.

Councillors have the option of directing the additional funds to "another operational budget activity".

The increase would see Mayor Tracy Dobie's wage increase from $127,898 to $130,584, Deputy Mayor Jo McNally's from $79,936 to $81,615 and the remaining seven councillors would see a jump from $67,945 to $69,372.

Councillors voted unanimously last year to take a 2.25 per cent remuneration increase.

Mayor Tracy Dobie defended that decision stating: "I know every councillor in this room pays for everything themselves... they buy tickets for events, they pay for their dinner," she said.

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