Process for approving additional remuneration
Proposals for post-election expenditure from each council’s fund have now been submitted to the Authority as part of its review prior to the 2016 election. These proposals included any amendments to additional remuneration previously approved by the Authority. The Authority is now considering those proposals prior to issuing a determination which will apply from 1st July 2016.
Following the election, if there is no change to positions of additional responsibility, reconfirmation of the expenditure will not be required and no further determination will be issued until 1st July 2017.
The Authority will consider proposals made to it by councils requesting new arrangements and will either issue an amending determination or consult further with these councils. All proposals must be submitted to the Authority regardless of the additional level of remuneration proposed. The Authority expects councils to consider their full year’s work programme when making proposals.
In all cases where there is a change, councils need to wait till an amended determination is gazetted by the Authority before they can make extra payments to elected members. This could take around three months. However, all payments will be back dated to the time when a councillor assumed a particular role.
Changes in councillor numbers following a representation review will not affect the base councillor remuneration level for each councillor, or the size of the fund available for councillor positions of additional responsibility. The only impact of a reduction in councillor numbers would be a reduction in the total remuneration costs for the council, with fewer councillors receiving the base councillor remuneration. Conversely more councillors would result in a higher total remuneration cost for the council.
Mid-year changes to governance structures
If a council changes its committee structure during the period covered by a determination, resulting in some councillors having additional/amended/reduced responsibilities, approval must be sought from the Authority for any changes in remuneration.
A council cannot exceed its fund available for additional councillor responsibilities. If a council’s fund had previously been fully allocated, then any new position will require a reduction in the amounts of extra remuneration for other positions that were previously approved by the Authority.
If a council did not originally allocate its entire fund for additional councillor responsibilities, but wishes to do so by appointing an additional committee chair during the triennium, the Authority would need to be convinced that the new role did not result in a reduction of duties/workload of the other chairs.
The Authority does not need to be advised of a reduction in the number of positions of additional responsibility if no changes are proposed to levels of extra remuneration for other positions. Any funds saved from such a reduction do not need to be reallocated.
The Authority will consider requests to change structures as they are received. The process of developing and producing a determination will normally take at least three months and may take longer with the intervention of the summer break. Councils need to wait till an amended determination is gazetted by the Authority before they can make extra payments to elected members, but all payments will be back dated to the time when the councillor assumed the particular role.
The Authority has traditionally accepted proposals in respect of additional remuneration that are unanimously supported. Where it receives split recommendations, or where the relativities established are well outside national norms, the Authority cannot overlook the possibility of political differences driving the proposal. In those cases, strong supporting documentation concerning the reasoning behind any change in the recognition of positions should be provided.
A council cannot generally make a request for an increase in the size of the total fund for additional councillor responsibilities if, in the course of the year, it appears that it is not sufficient to meet needs.
Notwithstanding that, additional remuneration may be considered for unexpected duties in exceptional circumstances. This might be, for example, unforeseen circumstances when the usual incumbent of a role has had to take significant time off work because of extended illness or extended holiday. In this case, a council would need to seek approval from the Authority and provide a clear rationale for such payment. It is expected that funds for these acting duties would normally be sourced from savings made by adjusting the remuneration of the usual incumbent in the role, to reflect their decreased responsibility. This adjustment would comprise the difference, or a proportion of the difference, between a councillor’s base remuneration and the additional component for the additional responsibility.
Allocation, increase and carry-over of additional fund
A council is not required to distribute its entire fund. Any unallocated funding cannot, however, be carried over to the next financial year, with the exception of funding for additional duties to support the district or regional plan review process.
District/regional plan review process
Councils can apply for additional remuneration for district/regional plan review responsibilities. Confirmation will be required as to whether there is a finite timeframe for carrying out a review, and the years in which a significant part of that review is to be carried out must be identified. For the purposes of setting its determination, the Authority requires work on district/regional plan reviews to be expressed as an hourly or daily rate.
If the funding set aside for duties relating to the district/regional plan process is not fully spent, the remainder cannot be reallocated to councillors to top up their base remuneration.
However, funding for additional duties that has been approved by the Authority for the plan review process can be carried over into the following financial year. Approval for that carryover must be sought from the Authority before the end of May in the current year of funding. If the unallocated funding is not spent in the next financial year, councils may apply for outstanding amounts to be carried over into a further financial year as long as the council’s accounts reflect the carryovers.
This exception allowing funding carryover for the district/regional plan review process recognises the lengthy and often intermittent nature of that process. Councillors’ work around those plans can fall unevenly across years. The Authority expects councils to consider how this work might fall when making their proposals.