What Tauranga commissioners are being paid
The four commissioners leading Tauranga City Council have together been paid more than half a million dollars in remuneration for less than five months' work.
All four have already each been paid more than a city councillor’s annual salary.
In February, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta appointed a four-member Crown Commission to act in place of Tauranga’s elected members.
The commission took over all the council’s governance responsibilities, and is expected to be in place until the next local government elections in October 2022.
Commissioners’ remuneration figures for February 9 to June 30 this year, show the four commissioners – Anne Tolley, Stephen Selwood, Shad Rolleston, and Bill Wasley – were paid a combined total of $520,200.
On top of that, there was more than $26,000 paid to the commissioners for mileage and expenses.
Remuneration has been set by Minister Mahuta at $1800 per day for the commission chair, which is Tolley, and $1500 per day for the three other commissioners.
The council is responsible for paying the commissioners' remuneration.
The figures are GST exclusive and withholding tax is deducted from the remuneration.
Tolley was paid $160,200 for 89 days’ work between February 9 and June 30 this year.
That is more than the last annual salary of the mayor of Tauranga.
When he resigned, Tenby Powell had an annual salary of $158,175.
Before it was reduced in response to Covid-19, his annual salary was $166,500.
“Bear in mind that we now have four commissioners doing the job formerly carried out by the mayor and 10 councillors,” Tolley told Stuff on Friday.
“The workload involved in familiarising ourselves with the council’s business, and in the preparation, community engagement, hearings and deliberations required to implement the 2021-31 Long-Term Plan, has had a material effect on the commissioners’ remuneration for the February to June period,” she says.
“Now that is behind us, the expectation is that our ongoing commitment for at least the next three quarters will reduce to three days per week, as was envisaged by the minister when the commissioners were appointed.”
Working three days per week for the rest of the year – about 12 days a month, for six months – still has Tolley tracking to be paid almost $290,000 in 2021.
Tolley says during the formal draft LTP consultation period, the commissioners met with some 2000 people and attended 34 community meetings and pop-up information sessions.
“We then considered close to 1800 submissions, heard 50 hours of oral submissions and spent a day-and-a-half deliberating on the content of the LTP which will be brought back for adoption later this month.”
Commission chair Anne Tolley.
Before the commission was appointed, no Tauranga city councillor (apart from the deputy mayor) was being paid an annual salary of more than $115,000.
In less than half the year, all four commissioners have each been paid more than that.
Selwood was paid $122,250 for 81-and-a-half days’ work, Rolleston was paid $120,000 for 80 days’ work, and Wasley was paid $117,750 for 78-and-a-half days’ work.
If those three commissioners each work three days per week for the rest of the year, as is expected, they will all be paid more than $220,000 this year in remuneration by the council.
Then there are the expenses.
Selwood was paid $1208.04 for mileage and $12,561.74 for expenses between February 9 and June 30, including accommodation.
Rolleston claimed no mileage or expenses. Wasley was paid $291.92 for mileage and $243.92 for expenses.
Tolley was paid $602.66 for mileage and $11,153.94 for expenses, including meals and accommodation.
Tolley and Selwood each receive $750 per week towards the cost of permanent accommodation in Tauranga. That is included in their expenses.
The council says having the commissioners living in the Tauranga community is a more efficient use of their time and resulted in a neutral financial outcome for the council, with potential savings in commuting costs, hotel accommodation and meals.
The council said it also allowed the commissioners to be more accessible to the council and community when fulfilling their responsibilities.
“This amount will be reviewed in August 2021.”
In a statement, a spokesperson from Mahuta’s office says that commissioners are entitled to receive fees determined in accordance with section 258V of the Local Government Act 2002.
“Remuneration will be paid by the council at a rate of $1800 a day for the chair and $1500 a day for commissioners.
“The commission’s fees are set at a higher rate than the prescribed Cabinet Fees Framework fees due to the significant time commitment, immediate commencement and the high level of skills and expertise required for the role.”
The spokesperson says the commission’s chair is responsible for ensuring that any expenses claimed are reasonable and necessary.