Waikato Regional Council has voted to provide accommodation allowances to better support those councillors with large geographical constituencies to cover.
During the meeting in Hamilton last Thursday, a decision was made to amend the criteria for overnight accommodation stays.
The change was made to provide for councillors who live outside their constituency or whose constituency is significantly larger than all others, such as the Ngā Tai ki Uta Māori constituency.
In such cases, the council agreed to an allocation of two nights’ accommodation per month to attend to constituency business.
The council also agreed to changes in the councillor mileage and travel time allowance in line with the Local Government Elected Members (2013/14) (certain Local Authorities) Determination 2013 gazetted in September.
As a result, the mileage allowance will increase to 77 cents (from 74 cents) for the first 5000 km claimed and 37 cents (from 35 cents) thereafter. The travel time allowance will increase from $15 per hour to $30 per hour.
Councillors also agreed to exclude the cost of attending the Ministry for the Environment's ‘Making Good Decisions’ accreditation courses from their annual budget of $2000 per person for professional development.
Councillor salary and allowances are set independently by the Remuneration Authority, which will now be asked to approve the changes to the Councillors’ Allowances and Reimbursements Policy.
Councillor salaries remain unchanged.