If you're working as a councillor for the money you've gone down the wrong avenue, Dubbo Regional councillor Jessica Gough says, after being the only one to vote against a pay rise at the latest ordinary meeting on Thursday, May 25.
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With the majority of councillors voting for the rise, the mayor will now be paid $64,390 per year on top of the regular councillor fee while councillors will be paid $26,070.
This isn't the first time the council has voted to give themselves a pay rise, in June 2022 the council voted to raise the amount councillors earned from $24,320 to $25,310 while the mayor went from earning $60,080 to $62,510 on top of the regular councillor fee.
Councillor Matthew Wright said giving themselves a pay rise had been a point of conjecture in the community last year.
"I find it difficult to vote with giving ourselves a pay rise, because that is what we're talking about here," he said.
Cr Wright took to the report written for the council, citing clause nine drew his attention.
"It says inadequate pay has significant negative consequences, low quality local democracy and unacceptable burden on councillors and their families and poor councillor diversity," he read out.
Cr Wright went on to read out clause 101 which stated, "diversity was a strong theme heard by the tribunal both diversity of community served and diversity of representation. We heard that younger people, women, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and members of culturally and linguistically diverse communities, among others, were underrepresented in many councils."
Cr Wright said it wasn't possible for every member of the community to walk away from their place of employment or their business and expect to represent their community for free.
"They need some form of compensation and there might be members in this particular council that may be privileged enough that they will accept the pay rise and donate back to the community, that's fantastic, but there are others who have different financial situations and circumstances that maybe don't lend themselves to donate their time and their money or their time and efforts for free," he said.
"So, I'm happy to support this and I'm happy to support other more diverse and maybe more financially challenged members of the community to come along and have their say and input towards council in the community in the future."
Councillor Gough said she would be voting against it, stating she was in two of the minorities Cr Wright was discussing.
"I'm young and I'm female but I'm not doing this for the money, I'm not rich either," she said.
"I run a business but we also try to balance the books and look after our community.
"I'm not I'm not in it for the money and if anyone has run for local government for the money, you've gone down the wrong avenue."
Deputy Mayor Richard Ivey said despite the objection to the increase from the community in 2022 he would be in favour of the motion.
"If any of my fellow councillors do object to that increase, then I suggest you still vote for it and perhaps consider donating that increase to your favourite charity," he said.
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