The chief executive of the Hawke's Bay Regional Council's investment company has been given an $84,500 rise to $380,000 to recognise his increased workload - but several councillors have described it as excessive.
The Dominion Post understands four councillors - Rex Graham, Rick Barker, Tom Belford and Peter Beaven - voted against the increase for Andrew Newman, who is also chief executive of the council.
Mr Graham said yesterday that he and his wife worked with people in Flaxmere "who earn $25,000 to $30,000 a year working hard and trying to raise their families, and I just don't think there is any justification for a person getting such an $84,000 pay increase".
"I just think it's disgraceful."
Mr Beaven said it was "just difficult to justify that level of increase".
The decision to pay Mr Newman the increased amount was made in a split decision by the council in a meeting, from which the public were excluded, last month.
There was disquiet among some councillors on whether the new salary should be made public, and it was decided unanimously in another public-excluded meeting yesterday to issue a press statement detailing the increase.
Mr Newman was seconded from the council to the investment company as its chief executive in July last year, to progress the Ruataniwha dam scheme.
The statement said Mr Newman's new role included a raft of responsibilities and work streams, and the investment company's independent directors voted unanimously in favour of giving him a "temporary higher duties allowance".
As council chief executive, his salary was $295,500. The council agreed to a back- dated increase to $340,000 between July and December last year and to increase it further to $380,000 from January 1 this year until Mr Newman's secondment ceases and he returns to the chief executive role in mid- year. His salary then reverts to $295,500.
Mr Barker said he had nothing against Mr Newman personally.
"In fact, I think he's very good at his job. I just can't accept that this sort of salary is reasonable. When you compare it to the prime minister's salary of $428,000, it's very hard to justify."
He said it was appropriate that the discussion about the proposed increase was held with the public excluded but, once the decision had been made, it should have been notified.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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