Councillors were sharply divided over the issue of whether to impose a wage freeze, or a 2 per cent increase restriction, on council staff's wages and salaries, a subject which came up for discussion during 10-year plan deliberations. While both motions were voted down, the numbers were close. Here's how the councillors voted and their reasons for voting as they did.
Annette Main voted against both motions: The local government reforms being introduced by central will require councils to re-evaluate the services they provide and the way they provide them. The council has flagged that it thinks wage costs are an important issue for the future, but until we know more about what shape local government will take, it is premature to make major staff-related decisions that will impact on the services we currently provide the community.
Rob Vinsen voted for both motions: We went to the public with this draft plan and the submission process revealed the deep-felt concerns about rates affordability and, in particular, salaries and wages costs. We had the opportunity to take action but I am disappointed to say that some councillors failed to do so.
Allan Anderson voted against the wage freeze and abstained on the 2 per cent wage rise: While I am deadly serious about reducing debt and expenditure, it needs to be part of a whole package. I felt this was just toying with the issue.
Ray Stevens voted against both motions: I'm not interested in a simple cut-and-slash. It's all very well to say impose a wage freeze, but that means job cuts and we don't know where those cuts would come from. It will be hard to attract good people to work at the council if those jobs are insecure or they are not getting pay that compares well with other councils.
Hamish McDouall voted against both motions: It's not that I don't agree with [the motions] but I felt we didn't have enough information. It was right at the end of the 10-year plan deliberations and I felt it wasn't the right time to alter the plan, especially without the right information. I do believe the chief executive has done a good job in keeping council expenses down.
Nicki Higgie voted against both motions: It was a discussion that happened very late in the process, and it would have been very ad hoc if we'd made such a big decision at the last minute. We have people in our organisation who do a brilliant job, and I'd hate it if we lost some of them because we couldn't pay them.
Philippa Baker-Hogan voted for both motions: I was extremely disappointed that the majority of council showed no spine in supporting a very reasonable 2 per cent increase. This would have nil to minimal effects on council's operations but at least send a message to ratepayers, many on fixed to very low incomes, in very difficult times that council is trying to control costs ...
Randhir Dahya voted for both motions: I'm conscious of the financial problems worldwide, so I'd like to gently slow the wage rises now rather than be forced to jam the brakes on later.
Jack Bullock voted against the wage freeze and for the 2 per cent wage rise: I couldn't vote for the wage freeze. The impact that would have had on the organisation would have been huge. However, I was happy to support restricting the wage rises to 2 per cent. That was more realistic and there would have been no cuts to staff.
Councillors Sue Westwood and Rangi Wills could not be contacted for comment. Councillors Michael Laws and Clive Solomon were not present and could also not be contacted.