By Jonathan Leask Local Democracy reporter
The newly elected Ashburton District councillors will walk into a pay rise later this year.
The Remuneration Authority, which dictates the elected councillors' salaries, is proposing to increase the remuneration pool from $383,524 to $450,195 to be distributed to Ashburton District councillors following the elections in October.
The pool doesn't apply to the mayor and the Methven Community Board members.
Currently the deputy mayor salary's is $58,365 and the other eight councillors receive $40,645.
The pool increase would raise an Ashburton District councillor's salary to around $47,000.
Some councillors spoke of being uneasy about a pay increase, which is outside their control, during what are tough economic times.
"I just find a 15.76 percent increase a little bit unjustifiable in my own mind," Councillor John Falloon said.
"Basically, we only have inflation up to December at 5.19 but admittedly this does go back for three years so there may be some justification there, but to me I feel a little bit uneasy about a 15.76 increase."
Councillor Carolyn Cameron said she felt uncomfortable with the level of the increase.
Cameron said that with wages not keeping up with inflation, there seemed to be a disconnect "that elected members such as ourselves can benefit to a greater extent than the people that voted for us".
However, mayor Neil Brown said the increase will hopefully entice new, potentially younger, candidates to come forward for the next election.
"There's been talk over the years that if the role paid more, then more younger people with fulltime jobs could go to part-time jobs and spend a lot more time doing council and not miss out on any salary. This goes that distance I believe so we may get more young people around the table, we might not. Time will tell."
The councillors have their opinions but ultimately the Remuneration Authority determines the salaries.
"You can't determine what you get and what you don't get but once it's delivered to you you can decide what you do with it.
"If you don't want it you can give it away," Brown said.
Local Democracy Reporting is Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air