Pay us more: Bendigo mayor calls for wage increase

BENDIGO councillors should have their pay increased four-fold to about $100,000 a year, according to outgoing mayor Alec Sandner. 

Councillors are paid $26,188 per year and the mayor $83,650 per year, which should be “dramatically” increased, according to Cr Sandner. 

“The councillor’s role is no longer a community service,” he said. 

“Councillors are required to make enormous numbers of far-reaching strategic decisions and these issues are not simple.

“If you and I owned the City of Greater Bendigo, which is turning over $150 million with 1000 staff, would you select nine people at random and pay them $26,000 to run it? 

“No you wouldn’t, but that’s what we do here in Bendigo.”

Speaking at the presentation of the council’s annual report, Cr Sandner noted the Geelong mayor would receive $170,000 for the role. 

While he didn’t want to say if he agreed with the figure, noting that it was “too close to home”, he said all councillors needed a pay rise. 

“And we should reduce the number of councillors, including the mayor, to seven,” he said. 

“James Reade said the councillor’s position is the domain of retired people. 

“It’s not actually for retired people but for people who can afford to be on the council and if James was receiving $100,000 a year, he would probably make a career of local government instead of moving on the way he is.” 

The mayor also predicted ratepayers would vote for a mayor at the next election. 

“I don’t support that; I believe it should be done by the councillors,” he said. 

“It would become more ceremonial if they hadn’t had local government experience before they came in.” 

Cr Sandner noted he spent up to 55 hours in the role each week and said it was time to hand the position on to someone else.

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