Hamilton City Council boss gets $60k pay rise: are you freaking kidding me?

Oh yay, look, a man who thinks his desk job is worth almost half a million dollars a year.

Warning: Discussion of a Council boss being paid $440,000 a year may offend some.

Hamilton City Council just gave its boss a NZ$60,000 pay rise and he now gets NZ$440,000 a year.

Are you freaking kidding me?

Because in Hamilton right now there are families on a waiting list for donations of warm clothes for their kids. Like right now there are kids going to school with no jumpers, no warm tracksuit pants, because they live in terrible, in-escapable poverty and their parents just can’t afford clothes for them.

But that’s okay because look, Richard Briggs, the boss of our local council – which by the way is looking to hike our rates because it says it can’t afford to keep building our parks and playgrounds – is such a good worker and offers such terrific value for money that ratepayers are now forced to pay him almost half a million dollars EACH YEAR.

kristinwiigfricking
Actual footage of Hamilton ratepayers.

I am sure Richard Briggs is a nice bloke. I am sure running a city council is a tough gig and he has lots of reports to read and big decisions to make and it’s all very stressful on him. Probably not as tough and stressful as wondering how you are going to feed your kids when you’ve only got $7.59 left in the bank and it’s freezing cold and you can’t afford heating, let alone warm clothes, but I am sure Richard does it tough in his own way.

What I am also sure of, though, is there is no way on God’s green earth his job is worth that much money. I don’t care what performance band he’s in or what the going rate for council CEOs is or how good a job he’s been doing or if he turns up to work every day dressed as Mooloo the bloody cow and turns cartwheels down Victoria St to encourage more investment in Hamilton, it’s not a job WORTH THAT MUCH MONEY.*

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In Richard Briggs’ world paying him half a million a year is ”value for money”.

And what really kills me is the councillors debated and voted for the pay rise in total secrecy. They didn’t tell anyone they were going to do it, the simply sealed the council chambers doors and, with no members of the public or press around, did the deed. And to make it even more horrid they wouldn’t even make public what the final numbers were for and against the pay rise, let alone say who voted for and against. Like, if they have nothing to hide why all the secrecy?

Thanks to the brilliant work of one local newspaper, The Hamilton News, we now know who voted for, and against the pay hike.

Journalist Tom Rowland (in his first week on the job) did a cracking job and was able to find out the councillors who voted against the pay rise were Councillors Angela O’Leary, Dave MacPherson, James Casson and Siggi Henry. They deserve our praise.

Yes, even tinfoil hat wearing Siggi, the councillor who believes measles is a hoax and food manufacturers use the tissue of dead babies to flavour our food, had enough sense to see the raise was wrong.

Hamilton News reported it had attempted to contact all the councillors to ask how they voted. Philip Yeung is currently absent.

Councillor Leo Tooman told the News he was absent with sickness from the debate and felt it was not his place to comment on the matter.

So by the power of deduction that leaves us with Councillors Paula Southgate, Martin Gallagher, Mark Bunting, Rob Pascoe, Geoff Taylor and Garry Mallett. It is unknown if Mayor Andrew King voted (although if he did I reckon it would have been in favour of the rise).

None have spoken publicly about their decision and explained why they voted yes.

Cr Mallett did, of course, previously speak publicly about his decision to vote ‘no’ on another matter – that of paying for a children’s playground in Steele Park, Hamilton East. Old Garry thought that was such a frivolous thing to spend money on that he gave it the big thumbs down, although mercifully his fellow councillors appeared to recognise that as a cruel and stupid thing to do and the playground was built (and is wonderful).

I personally know a few of the other councillors that voted for the wage rise and they are good, decent people that I have a lot of time for. I don’t know what led to their decision, although I suspect it was put to them in such a way that it seemed really hard for them to say no, that the raise was just a matter of due course and it was the industry standard, things like that. Maybe they felt kind of funny about voting for it, I don’t know.

Richard Briggs himself has spoken about his new, even-more bulging pay packet in a recent interview with the Waikato Times. On reading it I learned several things. Things like:

  • Richard doesn’t intend to buy any new suits.
  • He thinks he has the best job in Hamilton.
  • He’s ”absolutely not” looking for other jobs (why the hell would you at $440k a year?).
  • He’s ”not chasing money” (to be fair they are basically throwing it at him).
  • His assistant Louise is ”top shelf” (although no doubt not pushing the $400k salary bracket herself).
Briggs1
Words: Waikato Times and Richard Briggs. Emojis: The rest of us.

What I would have really like to know is how the hell he sleeps at night knowing he is paid far too much money for what essentially is an administrative desk job, particularly when there are so many in his city who can’t even afford a $15 jumper from The Warehouse for their kid to wear to school.

But hey, I am sure when the Council hits us all with that rates hike it will be because Barry worked super hard on the report that recommended it.

And if, like me, you are bloody angry about all of this I suggest you don’t get mad, you vote, when the next Hamilton City Council election rolls around. Thanks to The Hamilton News now know who voted what.

And if you want to help out any families with some warm clothes there are two mums who run the amazing Clothe our Kids – Waikato charity and they would be very grateful for any donations you have.

*For the record childcare workers, nurses, midwives and people who work in nursing homes are among those I think actual deserve much, much more than we pay them.

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