Hands go up for a pay rise at Wodonga Council

UNANIMOUS VOTE: Cr Kat Bennett and Cr Tim Quilty were among the Wodonga councillors who voted for a 2.4 per cent pay rise. Picture: MARK JESSER
UNANIMOUS VOTE: Cr Kat Bennett and Cr Tim Quilty were among the Wodonga councillors who voted for a 2.4 per cent pay rise. Picture: MARK JESSER

One Wodonga councillor has admitted the main reason he voted for a pay rise for himself was because he liked the money too much to be objective.

Councillors voted unanimously to take the maximum wage under allowances set by the Victorian government: $24,730 each per year and $76,521 for mayor Anna Speedie, a 2.4 per cent increase on the previous year.

Cr Tim Quilty, who was elected on a platform of cutting council spending, told this week’s council meeting the issue of pay was different.

“I toyed with moving a motion to reduce the allowance, but at the end of the day I like getting the money too much,” he said.

“The rate of pay is not that high.

“You can call me a hypocrite if you like, but there we are.”

His comments came just minutes after Cr Kat Bennett had disputed a claim from a Wodonga resident made online that councillors were “only in it for the money”.

She said she calculated that based on her allowance, she received $13 for every hour of work put in as a councillor.

The councillor allowance was similar to that in Wangaratta, the only other North East council in the same pay category, but the mayor’s allowance was almost $10,000 higher.

It put Wodonga councillors’ wages on par with those in Mildura and Ballarat.

They can also take an 9.5 per cent in addition to their allowance or have the money paid into a superannuation account.

Cr Danny Lowe said people who complained about the pay rate had forgotten about the time commitments needed for the job.

“We don’t do it for money, we do it to serve our community,” he said. “They need to be a paid position because otherwise, you’re only going to attract either retired people who have the time or business owners where they can allocate someone else to run the business for them and can step out easily.

“People that are trying to create a career and advance a career will turn a blind eye to being a councillor.”

Cr Libby Hall said councillors also took on extra costs such as travel and printing.

“We do it because we want to do it, we want to represent the community, really it’s not about the money,” she said.

The proposal will go out for public comment before it comes back before the June council meeting for a final decision.