A tale of three cities

By Chris Thomson | posted on August 9, 2018

MAYOR Dennis Wellington and Albany’s 12 City councillors get paid more than their counterparts in the only other two cities in the State’s far south, but council supremo Andrew Sharpe says ratepayers are getting good value for money.

Figures provided by an eagle-eyed ratepayer, and corroborated by The Weekender, show Mr Wellington gets paid $135,910, the maximum allowable under the Local Government Act. Meanwhile, Busselton Mayor Grant Henley receives $120,709.50 and Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan $91,000.

Albany Deputy Mayor Greg Stocks receives the maximum allowable allowance for that position of $22,216, while his counterparts in Busselton and Bunbury get $19,834 and $15,250 respectively. On top of that, Cr Stocks gets paid the maximum meetings allowance of $31,364.
All other Albany councillors receive this allowance, while their counterparts in Busselton and Bunbury are respectively paid $29,613 and $25,000 each.

Each city is a ‘Band 1’ local authority for the purposes of remuneration. Populations are in the same ball-park, with Albany having 37,686 people, Busselton 38,300 and Bunbury 32,244.

At $760, Albany has the lowest weekly household mean income compared to Busselton’s $805 and Bunbury’s $789.

Asked why, given Albany’s lower mean income and the similarities in populations, the City’s elected officials are paid more than in Busselton and Bunbury, Mr Andrew Sharpe said “the salaries and allowances the City of Albany pays its elected members is within the limits prescribed by the Local Government Act for a Band 1 Local Government”.

“Albany’s mayor and elected members work very hard for their community,” he added.

The Weekender then asked Mr Sharpe if, for argument’s sake, it could be assumed the two other cities also observed legislated remuneration limits and had hard-working mayors and councillors, what then would be the reason for the higher pay in Albany.

A City spokesman said Mr Sharpe had nothing further to add.