Deputy’s salary drop ‘not a gender issue’

Salaries for Waipa district councillors were approved at a council meeting last week, when all but one voted in favour of a new distribution of pay to accommodate for an additional councillor, which resulted in the deputy mayor’s salary dropping and other councillors getting more.

Though it was a “bad look” that Liz Stolwyk would receive $10,000 less than her male predecessor, the new deputy mayor said it was not a gender issue – it was simply not the best way to re-balance the cash pool.

“I just couldn’t bring myself to vote in favour of that resolution – it wasn’t my pay decrease, but their pay increase,” she said. “I voted against it because it was devaluing a position that’s held in high regard.

Liz Stolwyk is the new Waipa deputy mayor.

“I’m perfectly happy with my salary, that’s not why I’m in this role. No matter the pay I would absolutely honour this role and do it no matter what.”

With a fifth Cambridge councillor added to the table this year the money pool provided by the central government Renumeration Authority had to be juggled. Councillors opted for $43,300 for their deputy mayor and $33,300 for themselves.

“I think we were all expecting a pay cut, so it came as a surprise as we began to look at the options.”

Instead of a general decrease across all salaries, councillors voted for an option which would increase councillor salaries and significantly reduce the deputy mayor salary.

Stolwyk described it as “pure coincidence” that the pay cut came right after a female moved into the role and dismissed the idea of a “gender pay gap”, and said she was “perfectly happy with everything” around the council table.

“We’re stuck in this uncomfortable position of voting for our own salaries,” she said.

During the meeting former deputy mayor Graham Webber, still a Waipa councillor, described the renumeration committee process as “a very archaic way of working things out”.

“There’s no relevance to the workload,” he said, ultimately voting in favour.

When he was deputy mayor Webber received 65 per cent more in salary than that of a standard councillor – 25 per cent more for chairing a council committee, and 40 per cent more for being deputy mayor.

Though not a chair of a committee, as deputy mayor Stolwyk will receive 30 per cent more than a standard councillor.

“That’s okay, this is a democracy and the decision I accept,” said Stolwyk. “it is a great honour to have been sworn in as the Deputy Mayor, no matter what the pay rate.

“My drive and enthusiasm for this role will not change.”

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