WARRNAMBOOL’S mayoral allowance is more than the average annual wage for a mechanic or a teacher.
Councillors at this week’s Warrnambool City Council meeting voted to fix the remuneration for mayor Michael Neoh at $69,325, “plus superannuation equivalent”.
According to 2012 figures from Mycareer.com.au, this allowance is higher than the average wage for people working in the education and training sector ($64,826) and the automotive industry ($66,569).
It’s also higher than the average annual wage in admin/office support ($55,016), community/sport/leisure ($66,992), customer service/call centre ($54,847), hospitality/travel/tourism ($53,480) and retail ($57,844).
Councillors also voted in the same motion to set the allowance for themselves at $22,405. Both figures are the maximum allowed for “category 2 councils” by the state minister for local government.
Cr Peter Hulin was the only councillor who voted against setting the allowances, saying “I don’t think any of us should get paid” and referring to a previous matter on the council agenda where attempts to move a motion about the Wilma Wright were short-circuited.
Cr Kylie Gaston said she couldn’t afford to be councillor without the remuneration.
“The allowance allows me to serve on council,” she said. “I certainly didn’t run for council for the money and I’m sure none of the other councillors did.”
Speaking after the meeting, Cr Neoh said it was up to councillors whether they took the allowance.
“The allowance (can take) away any barriers to current and future councillors,” he said.
“Some councillors may forgo employment opportunities to serve or while serving on council.
“I was lucky to be able to go part-time (in my employment) to focus on my mayoral duties,” Cr Neoh said by way of example.
“But if councillors don’t want to take it they can write to the chief executive officer and say they don’t want it.”