URBAN councillors yesterday agreed to form an independent committee to study how to set their allowances in future - after awarding themselves a 10 per cent pay rise. The rise from $40,000 a month to $44,000, backdated to October 1, was passed with 10 dissenting votes. Twenty-two voted in support and three abstained. The opponents, who are mostly independents, have proposed a freeze on pay in view of the lack of transparency on how allowances are assessed. Members only agreed to put their next pay rise on ice pending recommendations from the independent committee. The rise was based on a report from a working party, which argued that higher allowances were necessary if councillors were to offer professional service.