The Weekly Advertiser Horsham
Councillors to receive pay increase
Allowances for Wimmera mayors, deputy mayors and councillors will increase following a statewide change to remuneration rules.
The Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal made an ‘annual adjustment determination’ to allowances for councillors last month.
It determined a 1.5 percent increase to the base allowances for mayors, deputy mayors and councillors, effective December 18 last year.
A further 1.5 percent adjustment will apply from December 18, 2023.
Mayors and deputy mayors will receive a further 1.5 percent increase — from December 18, 2024 and again on December 18, 2025.
The Local Government Minister categorises councils based on population and income.
Horsham Rural City is the only categorytwo council in the Wimmera.
Horsham councillors will be paid $31,353 annually, as at 2023.
Horsham’s annual mayoral allowance has increased to $100,637 and its deputy mayoral allowance earns $50,319.
Hindmarsh, Northern Grampians, West Wimmera and Yarriambiack shires and Ararat Rural City Council are classified category one.
An annual category-one councillor allowance is $25,147, mayoral allowance is $77,933 and deputy mayor allowance is $38,967.
A State Government spokesperson said councillors, deputy mayors and mayors were entitled to receive an allowance under the Local Government Act 2020.
The spokesperson said the tribunal set the allowance value which councils factored into their annual budget-setting process.
Horsham Rural City Council chief executive Sunil Bhalla said previously, councillors could select their allowance value within a band, according to their category rating. But he said this would no longer occur because the tribunal had now fixed allowances annually.
“The tribunal is required to make an annual adjustment to the values of allowances. Their determination adjusts the values,” he said. “Councillor allowances are included in the council’s normal operating budget each financial year.
“The allowance reflects the work that councillors do each year for council.”
Mr Bhalla said use of council-owned vehicles for the purpose of council business had no impact on allowances.
“The Local Government Act allows for resources and equipment required by councillors to be provided in addition to their paid allowance,” he said.
“Council considers that the provision of a car is necessary to support the work of the mayor in representing the council in a broad range of activities and locations.
“This provision is in addition to the mayoral allowance.”
Yarriambiack Shire Council chief executive Tammy Smith said councillors now had a consistent allowance, based on the tribunal’s decision.
“It will see all councillors and mayors across rural Victoria on equal allowances,” she said.
“The councillor allowance provides remuneration for their time taken away from their employment, business and personal commitments to effectively oversee the strategic direction of the council.
“Councillors are delegated to represent the council on a number of committees and boards as well as attending council forums, community consultations and other events.
“The allowances will increase by an increment of 1.5 percent each year, similar to wages, as a result of a number of factors. These include current and project economic conditions and trends, the fiscal strategy of the State of Victoria and recent remuneration adjustments for comparable roles.”
Northern Grampians mayor Kevin Erwin said councillors were paid from council revenue it received from rates, untied grants and user fees.
“It is recognised that there is a lot of work expected of the mayor and councillors in fulfilling their role as representative of the Northern Grampians Shire Council community,” Cr Erwin said.