Time commitment, allowances & support
As a councillor, you’ll need to spend time on official and unofficial duties, generally in addition to any work and family commitments.
To help meet your councillor commitments, councillors have access to administrative support from council officers.
Councillors spend several hours each week performing formal duties (attending meetings and reading agendas for these meetings) and many more hours performing informal duties such as meeting with constituents and attending community functions.
The time commitment varies, but it usually requires 10 to 20 hours a week.
Some councillors may be able to devote more hours. Councillors should expect to attend at least one meeting per week.
Councillors’ partners aren’t expected to attend all civic events and receptions, although invitations are usually extended to them.
Formal council meetings are held at least once a month, but there may also be regular committee meetings and other activities. Councillors often nominate to be on a particular committee, which holds separate meetings.
Generally, more than one night a week may be filled with regular council and committee meetings, but commitments are shared with other councillors to spread the workload.
There may also be involvement in external organisations including neighbourhood house committees, and school and recreational committees.
While there are core commitments that councillors are expected to attend, others are voluntary opportunities that can be taken up at the discretion of individual councillors.
Many councillors continue to work fulltime. Councillors don’t receive employment benefits, such as a salary and leave entitlements because they aren’t council employees.
The Minister for Local Government sets a minimum and maximum allowance range for councillors across three categories. The limits for each category vary depending on the revenue and population base of each council. Each council determines the amount paid to councillors within the limits set by the Victorian Government.
Mayors receive a larger allowance due to their increased workload and role.
Allowance levels are subject to annual automatic adjustments that are announced in the Victoria Government Gazette by the Minister for Local Government.
Councillors living in remote areas can be paid an additional allowance of $40.00 a day, up to $5000 a year, when they attend official meetings or functions.
Allowances and tax
Allowances need to be included in tax returns. Councillors can decline to receive an allowance, in which case no tax liability would arise. Superannuation contributions don’t count towards assessable income.
Some expenses associated with election costs (up to a maximum of $1,000) and councillor activities can be deducted from income tax.
For further information, contact the Australian Taxation Office on 13 28 61.
Councils provide councillors with:
- administrative support
- a computer, mobile and landline phones, stationery, access to a fax machine and photocopier
- reimbursement of travel, phone, internet and childcare expenses.
The mayor also receives an office and vehicle.
Councils may provide councillors with a car to share and access, and office space and furniture.