Atkinson claims power trustees ‘paid too much’
The Chair of Hawke’s Bay DHB is running for a position on the region’s electricity trust and claims the current trustees are paying themselves an excessive amount.
Kevin Atkinson, who has chaired the DHB for 18 years and recently ended a 19-year tenure as chairman of Unison lines company, is one of 13 candidates hoping to become one of five trustees on the Hawke’s Bay Power Consumers Trust.
Unison is wholly owned by the trust, which each year distributes dividends from Unison to Hastings and Napier consumers, as well as deciding how to invest in power supply and energy efficiency and conservation projects.
This year each electricity account holder in Napier and Hastings received a dividend of $200. The trust’s chair receives $44,000 a year. The other trustees receive $22,000 and all get paid meeting fees. Atkinson said these salaries were far more than warranted.
‘‘The DHB chair is paid $42,000 and DHB members paid $20,400, yet those positions are far more onerous and obviously carry far more responsibility,’’ he said.
Atkinson believed the electricity trustees should be paid less than half their current remuneration.
Atkinson is one of a group of candidates who believed a review was needed to ask consumers how they wanted their dividend paid, including, direct crediting the consumer’s bank account, applying a credit to the consumer’s power account and whether there should be an option for consumers who wished to donate their dividend to a charitable fund that would back projects benefiting consumers.
Diana Kirton, who has been a trustee for 12 years, said Atkinson’s criticism was ‘‘unwar- ranted and ill-informed’’.
‘‘I can only speculate that these comments are an attempt to muddy the waters following the strong public reaction against his ‘power of five’ teams’s election bid,’’ she said.
Kirton said feedback from the likes of Grey Power was that people want their dividend paid to them. She said trustee remuneration had remained at $22,000 since 2002, and was in line with similar trusts around the country.
The election closes on October 2.