FOLLOWING the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal’s decision to grant pay rises to councillors, deputy mayors and mayors across Victoria, Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor Anthony Marsh has released a statement to “set the record straight”.
The mayor stated “the deputy mayor’s allowance has been increased from $34,588 to $59,659. However, this new allowance is not an increase but a correction”.
Cr Marsh said the “correction” was in recognition of how the role of deputy mayor had evolved significantly over recent years.
The article that sparked the response (“Councillors collect healthy pay rise” The News 23 March 2022) stated the base rate for councillors had increased from $31,444 to $35,972. On top of the $31,444 paid to councillors, the shire has been paying an extra amount as superannuation payments.
Superannuation payments to councillors has been an issue of contention. Councillors were not traditionally recognised as employees of the local governments and therefore not subject to superannuation law.
This resulted in a recommendation from the Local Government (Councillor Remuneration Review) Panel in 2008 to pay an additional amount above the determined rate equivalent to superannuation, or for the council to become an Eligible Local Governing Body (ELGB) under the Taxation Administration Act 1953 (Cth) which would effectively render councillors employees.
Mornington Peninsula Shire confirmed to The News they are not an ELGB, with the effect that councillors are not considered employees for the purpose of superannuation law.
An equivalent sum is paid to councillors and they can choose whether to keep the extra allowance or to “salary sacrifice” the amount into a recognised superannuation fund.
The latest determination rolls the extra allowance paid to councillors in lieu of superannuation into the new base rate.
Cr Marsh said “for too long, standing for council has been restricted to those who are retired or who could afford to work what amounts to a full-time job for less than half of the average full-time wage”.
In a statement sent to The News, councillor David Gill said “In my previous time as a councillor we were not concerned about remuneration. There was no stipend and no claiming of expenses, just a wish to serve our local community.
“When payment to councillors was first introduced in the 1980’s it was meant to give some small recompense for out of pocket expenses and later perhaps workdays missed while on official duties.
“I believe that councillors these days have been well compensated for what I still regard as an honour to be elected to represent our community.”
“I am hearing angry words directed at the media for raising this issue. Surely the main point is to always have transparency about how ratepayers money is spent.”
The value of the allowance paid to Mornington Peninsula Shire councillors is set to increase further from the new determined amount with the final determined allowance of $38,047 per annum from 18 December 2023.
The value of the allowance paid to the Mornington Peninsula Shire deputy mayor is set to increase further from the new determined amount with the final determined allowance of $64,629 per annum from 18 December 2024.
The value of the allowance paid to the Mornington Peninsula Shire mayor is set to increase further from the pre-determination amount of $110,477 to the final determined allowance of $132,573 per annum from 18 December 2025.
The increase represents a 20% increase in mayoral allowance over three and a half years.