How much should our mayors and councillors be paid?

Kyogle Council councillors, deputy mayor Tom Cooper, James Murray, mayor Kylie Webster, Maggie May, Rob Cullen, Janet Wilson, Hayden Doolan, Danielle Mulholland and John Burley.

Susanna Freymark

How much our councillors and mayor are paid varies from council to council.

The pay range for councillors is set by the NSW Local Government Remuneration Tribunal each year.

This year the Tribunal has determined a 3.75% increase for councillors and mayors.

Kyogle is classified as a rural council with a minimum and maximum for councillors set at $10,220–$13,520. Kyogle Council routinely pays the maximum amount.

Neighbouring council Richmond Valley (classified as Regional Rural) paid councillors $21,730 and the mayor got $47,420 in 2023–24.

Lismore City Council is classified by the Tribunal as a Regional Centre and at its last meeting discussed paying councillors $27,050 and paying the mayor $66,800 in 2024–25.

At the Kyogle Council meeting on June 11, it was agreed to pay councillors $13,520 and to pay the mayor $29,500. This was the maximum allowed under Tribunal rules.

There was a discussion in the meeting about this annual payment to councillors.

Deputy mayor Tom Cooper had harsh words to say about the payments.

“This system is broken,” he said.

“Having noted the debate in Clarence Valley Council, the mayor gets $80,000 and councillors get $30,000.

“Because we are a rural council that disparity gets bigger.”

Mr Cooper said Queensland “does this better.”

“Scenic Rim Council give $75,000 for a councillor.”

That’s quite a difference from the $13,520 Kyogle councillors get.

To get people to run who aren’t retired, they need a decent salary, Mr Cooper said.

Councillor James Murray questioned the motives of those running.

It’s good to know people are putting their hand up because “they want to serve the community, not just for the money,” he said.

Councillor Danielle Mulholland said it was difficult to encourage high quality candidates to run for council – particularly women.

“It is not a lot of money, but it is a lot of work,” she said.

“It equates to $250 a week, it’s up to you how much time you put in.”

Councillor Maggie May said she’d been a councillor for eight years and it took her four years to understand how the councillor payments affected her tax position.

“This amount is taxed,” she said.

“If you’re an average worker, it could likely bump you up a tax bracket.”

“NSW rural councils are vastly underpaid,” Ms Mulholland said.’

Would a higher payment at Kyogle Council encourage more people to stand at the council elections in September?

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