One of the highlights of my tenure as a City Councillor would have to be when Cr. Curach stated at a workshop a couple of weeks ago that he spends an average of 22 hours a week on Council work and related matters.
For the week and more following the media reports, this revelation has drawn the irk of some ratepayers. Elected members have no doubt been called over-paid and under-worked.
But you see, Cr. Curach fulfills the minimum required of a Councillor which is to attend all formal Council meetings and I believe he is a member of 1 sub-committee.
I am a member of 8 sub-committees and taskforces. And now that I have given it a bit more thought, I would say my impromptu response of 35 hours a week on average was about right. Sometimes we have 11 or 12-hour long days.
Many people under-estimate the amount of work and hours that is required of a Councillor and I would be honest to say that when I first decided to put my name forward for Council, I had thought it would be easier and a little less time-consuming than it really is. If Council responsibilities only required 22 hours a week, I would not need to make a lot of concessions to my speaking business. But I have and that compromise is an undeniable reality for me.
I always looked at Council as no different from an organisation's Board of Directors. We manage a city of 120,000 residents, with $3.4 billion assets and a revenue of over $160 million. A Director of an organisation this large would be paid a lot more than $74,000 for a lot less hours than a Tauranga City Councillor.
Here we are in Tauranga, New Zealand's 5th largest city, still with the big-town mentality. Someone made a comment in the media suggesting that Councillors should be paid just over minimum wage. Have you any real idea who you want representing you as a ratepayer and leading the city before that comment?
What's even more disappointing is when the Bay Of Plenty Times editorial appeared the following day suggesting that Councillors should work at least 50 hours a week to deserve our salaries. I'd like to ask, hand on your heart, would you assume the role of a Councillor and deal with the things we deal with, 50 hours a week, for $74,171 a year?
When I was first elected 2 years ago, a very wealthy and successful friend who I think would make an exceptional Councillor, called and exclaimed, "Why have you gone into Council?!! Smart and successful people don't go into Council!!!"
I rest my case.
I'm going to enjoy some well-deserved time off now. Merry Christmas everyone and have a wonderful 2013!