Council 'can't afford' 2.5 per cent pay rise for senior staff

GREATER Taree City Council cannot afford to deliver the senior staff pay increases that were rubber-stamped at the meeting of council on January 22.

That is the view of Cr Kathryn Bell in the wake of the decision to award a 2.5 per cent increase to council's general manager, Gerard Jose , executive leader service delivery, Ron Posselt and executive leader corporate support, Laura Black. The moves follows the recent remuneration decision of the Statutory and Other Offices Remuneration Tribunal (SOORT) to award a 2.5 per cent increase effective from October 2013.

Mr Jose will now receive "$233,417, includes a $14,742 vehicle contribution to Greater Taree City Council", with Mr Posselt and Ms Black to receive "$204,269, motor vehicle contribution to Greater Taree City Council of $14,559" according to the tabled report.

The implementation of the 2.5 per cent increase is effective as from October 1, 2013 for the general manager, and applies from the date of anniversary for each of the executive leaders.

Cr Bell strongly opposed the decision and at the meeting sought support from councillors for her amendment that:

o Council write to SOORT outlining concerns with the blanket of remuneration levels of senior staff as it is not equally affordable or equitable across local government areas.

o That councillors take carriage for preparation of the submission via workshops.

o That council's executive be offered the opportunity to forego the 2.5 per cent increase as a positive gesture to the community.

The amendment was unsuccessful but according to Cr Bell, "that should not be the end of the issue". Her decision to bring it to community attention comes from her belief "that it doesn't line up with community views of local government."

"It's obscene in Taree. It's inequitable. It's apples and oranges," Cr Bell said.

"When times are tough, council talks about council being one big team. I think the leadership needs to step-up on this one.

"Census statistics state the average personal income in this area is about $20,000 and household income was about $40,000 and so these packages, and any increases for our council staff is inequitable. It's ridiculous."

"If all councils had the same amount of money to spend then it would be fine. But we don't.

"We can't afford to be supporting pay increases for our management when we can't even do core infrastructure works in our area because of funding issues."

Performance assessed

The report to Greater Taree City Council stated under 'Community Impacts' that "Employment of quality senior staff provides great community outcomes in terms of service standards" and according to its author, Gerard Jose , "I have assessed the performance of the two executive leaders over the period July 2013 to now as being outstanding in terms of consistently applying the established values and role modelling the behaviours expected to all staff.

"They have provided highest possible leadership to the senior leaders, resulting in a very corporate focused team.

"There has been a collaborative approach to achieving results through people, based upon long term planning, being transparent and detailed resource management.

"They communicate clearly the direction and decision of council and possess a high level of energy to drive change and achieve results. Ron (Posselt) and Laura (Black) demonstrate a willingness to engage, are forthright and honest in their assessment and advice, and encourage organisation transparency and improved customer service," Mr Jose's report concluded.

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