'POLITICAL STUNT': Mayor called out for voting against pay rise
THE Maranoa councillors who voted to give themselves a pay rise have defended their decision and called out the mayor for taking part in a "political stunt".
Seven of the nine Maranoa councillors voted in favour to increase their salaries by 2.1 per cent, as recommended by the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal.
Mayor Tyson Golder and councillor Geoff McMullen were the only two to vote against the wage boost, however, are still set to have their packets increased.
READ MORE HERE: Maranoa Councillors vote to give themselves a pay boost
Cr Golder told The Western Star he voted against the increase due to the region experiencing "economic hardship", however, his previous votes in favour of pay rises has raised suspicion by his colleagues that last week's vote was a political stunt.
"Since I have been elected in 2012, this has been reviewed every year and what the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal wanted was local councils not setting their own salaries," Cr O'Neil said.
The issue of pay increases has come before the Maranoa council four times since the 2016 Local Government election.
The nine councillors voted unanimously to increase their pay in April 2016, February 2017 and February 2018.
"We then get to the last year of this current term and it is a 7-2 vote," Cr O'Neil said.
"That is where I believe this has been used as a political mechanism to cause and illustrate a division in council."
The issue of councillor pay increases caused a massive stir in the community, with hundreds of residents taking to The Western Star page to express their outrage.
Under the rules of the Local Government Remuneration and Discipline Tribunal, the council is split into three categories: mayor, deputy mayor and councillors.
"At any time the mayor, because he is a mayor on his own, could put forward to council to receive a reduced remuneration package - that has never happened," Cr O'Neil said.
"However at the councillor level it is a majority vote so it would be different for Cr McMullen.
"But not once over the past four years has that occurred and last week when this vote was put forward the mayor could have put forward a revised remuneration package, but he didn't."
When The Western Star asked the mayor why he voted no for the pay rise, knowing he would still receive it, he said he was hoping for a remuneration freeze.
Cr Golder also hinted at donating his wage increase to a worthy community cause.
"Speaking at my personal capacity, I thought the councillors had the same view and the pay rise wouldn't happen," Cr Golder said.
"However, I am considering ways to use the pay rise to benefit the community.
"I haven't decided yet, but I am certainly looking at doing that."
Further supporting Cr O'Neil's comments, Cr Peter Flynn said he found it "strange that they (Crs Golder and McMullen) voted in favour of the pay rise in the past three times and the time it is leading into the election they voted against it".
"Every year it has come up while I have been on council it has been a 9-0 vote and it seems this time some councillors feel they need to grandstand for their own benefit," Cr Flynn said.