Horsham Rural City councillors have passed their own pay rise despite overwhelming public feedback calling for a freeze on wages.
There was heated debate during Monday's evening council meeting, which saw councillors discuss the merits of increasing their remuneration to match similar category two councillor and mayoral allowances in Victoria.
The motion was first raised at a council meeting in January this year, and ratepayers were invited to provide feedback.
Almost 90 per cent of the 25 public submissions did not support the wage increase.
However, the motion was passed 5-2.
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Mayor Robyn Gulline, along with councillors Penny Flynn, David Bowe, Les Power and Claudia Haenel, supported the increase.
Cr Gulline referred to the councils' move from category one to category two council in December 2016.
She said it was a promotion and recognition of the complexity and amount of work required from councillors.
"Financial compensation is always paid in recognition," Cr Gulline said.
"This allowance is an acknowledgment of the contribution and councillors so they can do their work."
Cr Gulline said an increase in allowances means a better chance for diversity in the council.
"Governments all over the world introduced allowances. They want to see diversity.
"They don't want people who can afford to sit here for free making decisions. It is to recognise what we are doing for and on behalf of the community."
The increase in allowances will be introduced by the end of the financial year.
Councillors will have an allowance of a maximum of $26,245 and the mayor allowance of up to $81,204 after the increase.
Mayors and councillors can choose to accept full, partial or none of the allowance.
Cr Di Bell and Cr Ian Ross disagreed with the increase and voted against the recommendation.
Cr Bell said the council needs to respect the community decision, referring to the public submissions.
"We're quite clearly required to respect the decisions of our community," she said.
"There is no wage for this position; we stand knowing that this is the case. Receiving allowances to cover the costs is a bonus, I believe."
Cr Ross said he voted against it due to concerns from the public submissions.
"If we are to consider the community submissions, we should be voting a clear no," he said.
"If we are to have credibility in our community when we ask for submissions and we ignore it, it's a sad day."
Cr Ross said he felt it was inappropriate to vote for the increase with people still struggling due to COVID-19.
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