$200 an hour to work on committee

MEMBERS of Tweed Shire Council’s new planning committee face a very merry Christmas thanks to a recommendation from senior council staff that they be paid $200 an hour for their work.

The wage has stunned some councillors, including Tweed mayor Warren Polglase, who said he was “quite surprised” when he read an agenda item asking councillors to approve the payments at today’s council meeting.

The planning panel, which takes major planning decisions out of the hands of councillors, includes three government appointed members including the chairman who are paid by the NSW Government, two permanent council appointed members and one council-appointed stand-in member.

In June the council appointed university lecturer Dr Ned Wales and Brisbane barrister Robert Quirk as permanent members and Queensland government bureaucrat Steven Grimes as the stand-in.

It has been told the government will cover the remuneration of its members, chairman and former politician Garry West, former Byron Shire general manager Pamela Westing and former Tweed council general manager Dr John Griffin.

Council staff have recommended the council pay its members $200 per hour each time they hold a meeting with a minimum payment for one hour. On top of that they will be paid $200 an hour for any preparatory work or site inspections with that capped at four hours each time.

Cr Polglase said councillors would consider the recommendation today but could knock it on the head.

“With four hours, that’s $800 a day,” he said. “I thought that was quite a handsome reward. I suppose if a fellow ever wanted to retire it’s worth putting your name down.”

Cr Polglase said the council would be paying “professional rates for professional people” chosen to sit on the panel but it was the council, therefore the ratepayers that had to met the bill.

“And the more development we get in the area, the more we have to pay,” he said.

Cr Polglase said the cost would come from general revenue.

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