Ratings fell but salary kept rising

Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt was awarded a controversial $68,000 pay rise despite a steady decline in his performance reviews, official documents show.

The organiser of an anti-Marryatt protest wants the Internal Affairs Department and the Auditor-General's Office to investigate "significant discrepancies" between the chief executive's performance reviews and the decision to grant the increase.

Council critics have also attacked Marryatt's decision to hold on to more than $34,000 of the pay increase until councillors could "work together collegially", with one describing the move as "blackmail".

The council last month gave Marryatt a 14.4 per cent pay increase, taking his salary to $538,529.

After weeks of public criticism, Marryatt said last week that he had asked the council to stop paying him the increase.

Documents released by the council under the Official Information Act show that Marryatt's performance reviews have gone gradually downhill since 2009.

His overall performance, excluding self-assessment, decreased from 4.3 out of 5 in 2009 to 3.9 last year.

Marryatt's ratings declined in six out of seven categories over his three performance reviews, based on anonymous reviews from councillors and senior management.

The review said his "top strengths" included his clear articulation of a vision for the organisation and his effective and consistent leadership of the senior management team.

"Opportunities for development" included his relationships with key organisations and groups in the city, as well as the early identification and management of "potentially sensitive or contentious" issues.

Marryatt critic Peter Lynch, organiser of a protest against the council to take place on Wednesday, said the reviews did not support claims that the chief executive's performance had been "amazing".

"He's OK in some areas, but that certainly doesn't warrant a massive pay rise."

Lynch said the review was an "indictment" of the council's decision to grant Marryatt the pay rise.

He planned to ask Internal Affairs and the auditor-general to look into the "significant discrepancies" between Marryatt's reported performance and his pay increase.

Mayor Bob Parker defended the council's decision, saying Marryatt had received "a very strong rating".

"It's still a very good response, in the top 20 per cent overall."

Marryatt had been given high ratings by staff who had worked closely with him during the earthquake response, while low ratings from some councillors were part of a "natural spread".

Parker said the 2011 review had been carried out during Marryatt's reappointment process, which may have been responsible for his decline in ratings.

"Tensions were beginning to run high, and I think that's [the decline] a reflection of what was going on at the time."

The decision to grant the increase had been made by a majority of councillors who supported the work Marryatt was doing, Parker said.

"They clearly thought he was doing a very good job, and he is doing a very good job in a very difficult situation," he said.

Meanwhile, Marryatt has refused to clarify what he will do with the more than $34,000 that he had already received before halting the pay rise.

In a statement last week, Marryatt said he would return the money if councillors could "work together collegially".

He declined to comment when contacted by The Press yesterday.

Parker said what Marryatt did with the money was "his business and his right".

"He seems to be saying, 'You've made the commitment, that's stage one; now stage two is what takes place over the coming days or weeks'."

The Wider Earthquake Communities Action Network chairman, the Rev Mike Coleman, said Marryatt appeared to be "blackmailing" councillors with the money.

"Why is he talking in these types of terms? It's bizarre, he's got this kind of spoiled brat mentality."

The city needed a new chief executive who was "absolutely committed" to the rebuilding process, Coleman said.

The Press