Super salaries for super city
The super city’s bosses boast super-sized salaries. Auckland Council’s Len Brown is the country’s highest-paid mayor, with chief executive Stephen Town the highest-paid manager.
Brown, elected for a second term late last year, rakes in an annual wage packet of almost $250,000. His salary is outstripped by his top official: Town earns $620,000 a year.
The council employs almost 6000 staff, with 811 earning more than $100,000 a year. Brown has a staff of 21, which includes a chief of staff, six advisers, a press secretary, two part-time drivers, a correspondence assistant and two diary managers.
Employee expenses work out at $875 for every ratepayer in the area.
Data provided by the Taxpayers' Union, a lobby group, has been turned into an online tool, Ratepayers' Report, to allow residents to compare their local council with 67 territorial authorities across the country. This data was checked by Fairfax Media and supplied to councils for them to review prior to publication.
Christchurch’s Lianne Dalziel is the second-highest paid mayor, on $229,074 a year, followed by Wellington’s Celia Wade-Brown on $164,000 and Hamilton’s Julie Hardaker on $147,000. Dunedin’s Dave Cull earns $142,000.
All but Dalziel are second-term mayors. Mayoral salaries are determined by the independent Remuneration Authority. Of the country’s 67 mayors, 25 are paid more than $100,000.
On average, council chief executives are paid almost three times the mayoral salary – and almost five times the average household income of their area.
Wellington City Council’s Kevin Lavery is the second-highest-earning chief executive, raking in $400,000 a year. New Christchurch CEO Dr Karleen Edwards, who was appointed in May, is being paid $395,000. Edwards’ predecessor Tony Marryatt controversially drew an annual salary of $530,000. The council is facing a budget blow-out of $534 million. It employs 1902 staff, at a cost of $902 per ratepayer. Just over 300 employees earn more than $100,000.
The fourth-highest-earning chief executive is in Western Bay of Plenty, where Miriam Taris, who was promoted to the job last month, replacing Glenn Snelgrove, is paid $380,805.
WBOP employs 166 staff, 20 of whom are earning more than $100,000. This costs each ratepayer $555. Its debt per ratepayer is $8745 – the eighth highest in the country.
Waimate District Council CEO Bede Curran is the lowest paid on $166,000. He replaced Tony Alden in April. In December, councillors declined a request to hike Alden’s salary to $149,228.
Chatham Islands Territory’s Alfred Preece earns the least for a mayor – at $45,778 a year.
Kaipara District Council refused to disclose the salary of its mayor, Neil Tiller.
* A backbench MP earns around $148,000 a year, Prime Minister John Key earns almost $430,000.