Municipal salaries

Feedback after SALGA investigation

SA's Auditor-General, Terence Nombembe
Following the widespread recent media coverage around the salaries of municipal managers, South African Local Government Association (SALGA) embarked on an investigation to establish the facts. 

The association says in a press release that its investigation came to the conclusion that the published information regarding salaries of municipal managers was ill-informed. 

“SALGA is always committed to the principle that remuneration packages must be affordable, comparable and sustainable with due regard to inflation, macro-economic factors and productivity. This position underpins SALGA's approach to salary negotiations with the unions and the directives and advice given to municipalities when making decisions about the remuneration packages and increases of senior managers,” according to the press release. 

SALGA says the salaries of senior managers, particularly municipal managers, always attract a considerable amount of public interest, especially given the general perception that municipal officials are overpaid in relation to their performance levels. 

However, in practice the remuneration of the senior management of municipalities, accounted for only 3.4% of the total municipal wage bill of R46.7-billion in the 2009/2010 financial year.

“Municipal manager's salaries are based on a total cost to employer (TCTE) basis, whilst the salaries of municipal employees only reflect basic salary excluding benefits. Coupled to this, senior managers generally receive lower increases than the rest of the employees, i.e. inflation-based as opposed to higher than inflation increases agreed upon in the bargaining process for the last 10 years,” reads the release.

According to SALGA, municipalities need to attract skills with competitive salaries to fill critical positions and it is important to note that in comparison with other chief executives in the private and public entities, salaries of municipal managers are reasonably comparative and in many instances even far lower in comparison.

The overall picture emerging from the data gathered is that generally municipal managers do not receive outrageous salaries and that their salaries are in line and comparable with the public sector. 

“Whilst this statement is aimed at correcting and clarifying the remuneration packages of municipal management, the fundamental thrust of local government remuneration is underpinned by the principles of fair remuneration of all employees across the levels of employment in the sector, comparable remuneration for work of equal value and equity between the lowest and highest paid workers,” says SALGA.

Payment of performance bonuses to senior managers is kept to a maximum of a 14% once off payment and subject to a successful performance assessment that is approved by Council.

“Closing the wage gap is therefore a critical task in determining a fair remuneration regime for workers. The sector is conscious of the need and at all times to strike a fair balance between fair remuneration and sustainability of local government finances and the matching of remuneration to productivity and demonstrable improvement in the quality of services to the citizens. 

“To ensure that a common remuneration framework for senior managers is achieved in the sector, SALGA and COGTA are working on developing a set of regulations to govern remunerative measures including providing for the maximum thresholds that should apply in the different categories of municipalities,” SALGA concludes.

To view the “inaccuracies and distortions” in the salary profiles of municipal managers as contained in the recent media publications, click here.

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This edition

Issue 68