Shepparton News - - FRONT PAGE - By Myles Peter­son

As rate-pay­ers feel the pinch of some of the high­est rates in the re­gion, Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil’s annual re­port has re­vealed its three top paid staff are earn­ing more than $300 000 per year.

Com­pared to sim­i­lar coun­cils such as Bal­larat, Greater Bendigo and Greater Gee­long, only the chief ex­ec­u­tives of those coun­cils com­mand such remuneration.

Rates in those mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties are lower, but Cor­po­rate Ser­vices di­rec­tor Chris Teitzel and for­mer coun­cil­lor John Gray said com­par­ing rates was a dif­fi­cult ex­er­cise.

Three of Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil’s top earn­ers pulled in more than $300 000 for the 2017-18 fi­nan­cial year, its lat­est annual re­port shows.

No di­rec­tors at com­pa­ra­ble coun­cils such as Bal­larat, Bendigo and Gee­long com­manded such remuneration, the annual re­ports of those coun­cils show.

The fig­ures may in­clude fac­tors such as long ser­vice leave, but Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil said it could not re­veal the de­tails of who was be­ing re­mu­ner­ated the high amounts due to com­mer­cial and pri­vacy is­sues.

‘‘We take the view that the con­trac­tual re­la­tion­ships are pri­vate to the coun­cil,’’ cor­po­rate ser­vices di­rec­tor Chris Teitzel said.

Two more staff were paid more than $200 000 and nine com­manded more than $145 000.

To­tal remuneration for what is listed as ‘‘key man­age­ment per­son­nel’’ rose 12.92 per cent from $1 600 592 in 2016-17 to $1 807 389 for 2017-18.

Mr Teitzel said part of the jump was associated with a long ser­vice leave trans­fer.

He said wages for coun­cil’s nonex­ec­u­tive staff rose 1.7 per cent.

The ‘‘key man­age­ment per­son­nel’’ cat­e­gory in­cludes coun­cil­lors and Mayor Kim O’Keefe, who are on $24 730 a year and $76 521, re­spec­tively.

For­mer Greater Shep­par­ton coun­cil­lor John Gray said it was not pos­si­ble to dis­tin­guish which in­di­vid­ual of­fices would be at­tract­ing the high­est level of pay.

‘‘I have never known how much any­body was get­ting,’’ he said.

‘‘The coun­cil only em­ploys one per­son (the chief ex­ec­u­tive) and as such that per­son then runs the or­gan­i­sa­tion, in­clud­ing tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ap­point­ments.’’

Mr Gray said chief ex­ec­u­tive Peter Har­riott pre­sum­ably at­tracted the high­est remuneration for 2017-18, listed in the re­ports as be­tween $320 000 and $329 000.

That fig­ure was equal to or less than com­pa­ra­ble coun­cils, with the head of Bal­larat City Coun­cil on a sim­i­lar fig­ure, Greater Bendigo on more than $340 000 and Greater Gee­long on more than $370 000.

Greater Shep­par­ton led the av­er­age rates for the four dis­tricts.

Vic­to­rian Govern­ment data shows av­er­age res­i­den­tial rates per res­i­den­tial prop­erty was $1525.79 for Gee­long, $1660.64 for Bal­larat, $1677.94 for Greater Bendigo and $1918.85 for Greater Shep­par­ton.

Mr Teitzel and Mr Gray said it was dif­fi­cult to com­pare rates be­tween dif­fer­ent mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties.

‘‘It’s dif­fi­cult to com­pare ap­ples with ap­ples when you’re look­ing at the dif­fer­ent coun­cils. One fac­tor would be the his­tor­i­cal de­ci­sions of the coun­cils in­volved,’’ Mr Teitzel said.

Mr Teitzel said the Vic­to­rian Govern­ment im­posed a rates rise cap of 2.25 per cent three years ago that did not take into ac­count dif­fer­ent lev­els of debt and other fac­tors. Mr Gray agreed. ‘‘It’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult to make a com­par­i­son,’’ he said.

Pic­ture: Ray Sizer

Crunch­ing the num­bers: Cor­po­rate ser­vices di­rec­tor Chris Teitzel said a large jump in remuneration for key man­age­ment per­son­nel re­vealed in Greater Shep­par­ton City Coun­cil’s annual re­port was at­trib­ut­able to long ser­vice leave trans­fers.

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