If you had the option of giving yourself a pay rise, would you do it?
Most people would say 'yes' in a heartbeat, of course. It would, after all, be a magnanimous gesture of the highest order to turn it down.
The reality is that a dollar just doesn't stretch as far as it used to. Food, fuel, electricity and clothes - all the essentials - cost more these days.
Not to mention the soaring price of putting a roof over your head, whether it be by buying, renting or building a house.
So, we could all do with a little more money to maintain our standard of living, couldn't we?
Unfortunately, most of us don't get the opportunity to pick and choose if we get a pay rise and how much it will be.
But our councillors do, and tomorrow night they vote on a report recommending they increase the annual councillor allowance by 22 per cent and the mayor's fee by 38 per cent, in line with advice from the NSW Local Government Remuneration Tribunal.
That sounds like a significant increase, and it is - sort of.
However, when you consider our councillors currently only take home $20,690, increasing the allowance to $25,310 is hardly grotesque.
Quite rightly, given the extra responsibilities of the role, the mayor is better compensated. In addition to the $20,690 councillor allowance, he receives a $45,140 fee.
These will rise to $25,310 and $62,510 should the recommendation pass as printed tomorrow night.
If a councillor works 20 hours a week - and many would work a lot more - under the current allowance they are paid about $20 a hour for their efforts.
Given they make decisions that affect 66,000 residents, a budget in excess of $200 million and about $1.4 billion in assets, surely there is a case for them to be substantially better remunerated?
NSW MPs earn a base salary of $169,000 a year, while federal MPs pocket $211,250. Parliamentary secretaries, committee chairs and ministers receive a lot more.
Why do we, as a country, so grossly undervalue our councillors?
It is long past time to compensate them more adequately in recognition of their importance to the communities they serve.
All the best for the week ahead,
Ross Tyson, editor
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