Local government general managers in NSW could see their remuneration packages capped or determined by an independent body.
It comes in response to what the government says are concerns some are getting paid more than Australia’s prime minister and even the US President.
Individual councils currently determine remuneration packages for GMs, with annual salaries in NSW varying from $143,000 to almost $650,000, and average remuneration of $328,287.
The state’s three highest paid general managers are at Parramatta ($633,852), Northern Beaches ($512,092) and Sydney ($511,954).
Local government minister Shelley Hancock says the way their remuneration is determined is out of step with NSW senior public servants, MPs, mayors and councillors, whose pay is set by independent arbitrators.
‘Out of step’
Unlike the NSW public sector, general managers can also receive discretionary increases to their total remuneration package from Council.
Councillor fees range from $9,190 to $40,530 and mayoral fees from $18,970 to $263,040.
Senior executives in the NSW public sector get between $192,600 and $562,650.
As a result, there’s concern in the community that some general managers are getting paid more than the prime minister and even the US president, Ms Hancock says.
“Therefore, the NSW Government is strongly considering mandating that salaries of general managers are set by an independent body, not by elected councillors,” she said.
“These managers should receive remuneration not only in line with their duties, skills and experience but in accordance with community expectations.”
The NSW government this week launched a consultation paper for councils and members of the public to have their say on general manager and senior staff remuneration.
“The comprehensive consultation paper examines general manager salaries to address community concerns they are too high with a large disparity across the state, an increasing gap compared to salaries of other workers, and financial pressures facing some NSW councils,” Mrs Hancock said.
‘Not an accurate picture’
Stewart Todd, general manager of Narrabri Shire Council and president of LG Professionals NSW says general managers are paid in line with the scope of their role in delivering services and outcomes for the community.
“A general managers role is extremely complex and they are often responsible for 50 or more different services to the community,” he told Government News.
Mr Todd says it is very much for elected representatives to determine remuneration for general managers and LGPro is opposed to handing that function over to an independent body.
“The elected representatives are in the best place to understand the council’s vision, the expectations of the general manager, the expectations and pressures of the role and the desires of the community,” he said.
Mr Todd also questioned denies the minister’s claim that there is community concern about levels of pay for local government general managers.
“We will make a submission following consultation with our members,” he sad.
“The association holds concerns that the paper released does not represent an accurate picture of comparison of remuneration.”
Caps also considered for senior staff
The consultation paper also looks pay received by senior staff, saying that in some NSW senior staff receive higher remuneration than general managers in other councils.
“Placing caps on general manager remuneration, to ensure fairness, may necessarily lead to placing caps on the remuneration of other senior staff members to ensure that the general manager continues to be the highest paid staff member in a council,” the paper says.
“Otherwise, councils may find it difficult to attract individuals to more complicated and demanding general manager roles when an individual can occupy a higher paying but lower level senior staff role at another council.”
Queensland Councils, like their NSW counterparts, also have complete discretion regarding remuneration of their general managers.
In that state remuneration for general managers ranges from $100,000 to almost $799,000.
Queensland’s highest paid general manager takes home between $700,000 and $799,000, followed by Gold Coast City Council’s GM who pockets $600,000 – $700,000.
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