A councillor’s most important job is listening to his or her community, and then representing their views on council. You are the community’s voice when decisions are made on the infrastructure and services required to meet area needs, and you will help determine how council’s budget can best be spent to serve those needs.
The council meetings you will attend as an elected official are usually held after business hours, about once a month. You may also wish to take part in special council committees focusing on issues such as planning, or participate in civic events such as citizenship ceremonies.
Some time will be needed to review council business papers, strategies, plans and budgets. And most importantly, you’ll need to have the time to speak with and listen to your community, so you can best represent them on council.
The time commitment is greater for Mayors, who not only preside at council meetings but carry out a wide range of civic and ceremonial functions, while liaising closely with the General Manager and his professional staff.
Being a councillor is not considered a fulltime job, so it doesn’t have a salary, workers compensation or sick pay. Instead, councillors receive an annual fee that is determined by the NSW Local Government Remuneration Tribunal. The fee – which is split into monthly payments – depends on council size, the number of people in the local government area, and the council’s asset base.
Certain expenses are also covered, including travel and telephone. Individual councils decide ahead of time which expenses they will cover to support their councillors. Examples of some expenses that may be covered include child care associated with councillor duties, internet usage, training courses and conferences, and accommodation, meals and refreshments during council business.
All councils are encouraged to provide facilities that help councillors deliver the best possible service to their community. These facilities might include computers, mobile phones, stationary and secretarial assistance, or special equipment to assist councillors with disabilities.