Southern Downs councillors were this week expected to vote on a pay rise for the 2020-2021 financial year as recommended by the State Government’s Local Government Remuneration Commission, but were also expected to vote against it.
A report to this week’s June council meeting stated the Commission –which annually reviews councillor pay rates in Queensland – stated the pay rise would equate to a total of $13,953 in council expenditure.
But the report also contained a recommendation foreshadowing Mayor Vic Pennisi and the team of councillors elected in March of this year decline the pay rise and instead direct those funds into the council’s general revenue “to activities as needed to help COVID recovery response activities during the next 12 months”.
Current pay rates expected to remain the same in 2020-2021 are –
• Mayor – $130,584
• Deputy Mayor – $81,615
• Councillors – $69,372
The Local Government Remuneration Commission had proposed the following increases –
• Mayor $133,196
• Deputy Mayor $83,247
• Councillor $70,759
Decisions on councillor pay rises are normally made as part of the annual budget process so any increase can be factored into budget planning.
Mayor Vic Pennisi this week told the Free Times the new 2020-2021 council budget – which had been expected to be adopted and publicly released next Tuesday 30 June – is likely to be delayed for at least a fortnight, with councillors and council staff still working through public submissions on the draft budget released earlier this month.
Under State Government requirements local councils in Queensland have until the end of August each year to finalise their new financial year budgets.
Cr Pennisi also told the Free Times this week the council is in the process of making a submission to Queensland Health to review COVID-19 social distancing rules to allow the public and media to attend council meetings in person, with meetings having been live-streamed on Facebook since the start of COVID-19.
• MORE ON THE BUDGET IN THIS WEEK’S COVER STORY, PAGES 6-8.
• UPDATES FROM THIS WEEK’S JUNE COUNCIL MEETING HELD YESTERDAY, WEDNESDAY JUNE 24, AT www.freetimes.com.au