City of Melville wage increase raises tensions among councillors

City of Melville wage increase raises tensions among councillors

A PROPOSED salary increase for the mayor and councillors led to heated debate at last week’s City of Melville meeting.

Councillors voted 7-6 to accept the Salary and Wages Tribunal’s recommended 1.5 per cent allowance increase for the 2016-17 financial year but not before councillor Nicholas Pazolli stormed out of the meeting midway through presenting his case for rejecting the increase.

Cr Pazolli made the point that council had given itself a 3 per cent salary increase in November, which was retrospectively applied from the beginning of the 2015-16 financial year.

After returning to council chambers, he said it was deplorable to add a 1.5 per cent just seven months later in an economic climate that had resulted in limited pay increases for City of Melville staff.

In July 2014, council resolved not to approve a recommended 3 per cent increase to its salary in 2014-15. The Salary and Wages Tribunal, which reviews the allowances of elected members annually, recommended a nil increase for 2015-16.

However, council voted 8-4 last November to adopt the 3 per cent bump offered the previous year.

Usually considered before the start of the new financial year, the salary review was delayed until November in light of last year’s Local Government elections in October.

Cr Pazolli took exception to the assertion from some councillors that the salary increase was effectively a 1.5 per cent annual rise over the past three years, rather than a 4.5 per cent jump over the course of seven months.

Councillors arguing in favour of the increase stated that it remained in line with the recommendations of the Salary and Wages Tribunal, would have a very small impact on ratepayers, and that higher pay for elected members would encourage more people to contest the seats, raising the calibre of candidates.

Those arguing against the proposal pointed to a sluggish economy that has resulted in higher levels of unemployment, an historically low official interest rate and the recent capping of pay increases for WA’s 140,000 State employees.

They also felt declining the increase would be a strong show of solidarity with those people doing it tough in the City of Melville area.

The 1.5 per cent salary increase will come into effect from July 1, 2016.