The Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal has made its first determination on the payment of mayoral, deputy mayoral and councillor allowances.
The determination, made earlier this month, sees an increase to mayoral and councillor allowances across the state, to be phased in over five years (for mayors and deputy mayors) and three years (for councillors).
A separate allowance has been established for deputy mayors.
The new allowances apply retrospectively from 18 December 2021, and councils must pay their council members in accordance with the Tribunal’s determination.
In a submission to the Victorian Independent Remuneration Tribunal, East Gippsland Shire Council said allowances are an integral component of ensuring that councillors can perform the roles and responsibilities outlined in the Local Government Act 2020, representing the municipal community and participating in effective and transparent decision-making.
“The level of allowances should reflect the commitment expected of councillors and the financial sustainability of the council,” the East Gippsland submission stated.
“In addition, allowances should adequately reflect the cost of representing the community to not preclude anyone from nominating and to ensure diversity of representation.”
East Gippsland Shire Council holds approximately 16 Council meetings and 48 councillor briefing sessions per year, each with a significant agenda and presentations.
Councillors also participate in a range of activities including briefings, meetings, advisory committees (10 quarterly), representation on external committees (14), community events and functions, meetings with the community, training and professional development, and responding to emails, letters and phone calls.
Council’s submission also highlighted that in geographically large shires like East Gippsland the time commitment is compounded by the need to travel to attend meetings or participate in events as a councillor.
“The time committed to the roles and responsibilities of being a Councillor have flow on effects to employment or income earning capacity for self-employed people.”
East Gippsland Shire Council says allowances that reflect the true cost of representing the community will attract a greater diversity of candidates for the community to consider and elect to represent the municipal community.
Victorian councils fall within four categories for allowances. East Gippsland is in category two, which states allowances for the period 18 December 2021 until 17 December 2022 are: