Marryatt won't say if he will return $26,000

SAM SACHDEVA AND RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 05:00 27/06/2012

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Christchurch City Council chief executive Tony Marryatt will not say whether he intends to return $26,000 of a controversial pay rise, despite the imminent departure of the Crown observer.

Marryatt said in January he would decline a controversial $68,000 pay rise after a wave of public criticism.

However, he retained more than $26,000 that he had already been paid, saying he would not return it until councillors showed they could "work together collegially".

In subsequent media interviews, he said he would decide whether to return the money after Crown observer Kerry Marshall finished monitoring the council.

Marshall, a former Nelson mayor, was appointed by the Government to oversee the council in response to concerns about its performance.

A March 3 report by Marshall, provided to The Press under the Official Information Act, said a lack of respect between councillors had led to a "breakdown in trust and the blurring of the line between governance and management".

Local Government Minister David Carter said yesterday that Marshall's contract would not be renewed when it expired on July 1.

He said Marshall had made "positive progress" during his time with the council, helping to rebuild professional relationships between the mayor, councillors and staff.

Marshall had also helped to finalise a charter of conduct signed by the mayor and councillors, he said.

Carter said he was confident the council could "continue to rebuild public confidence ... without additional government-funded support".

When approached by The Press, Marryatt was not aware of Carter's announcement, but said the issue was likely to be addressed during his upcoming remuneration review.

"I've still got to have discussions around what's going to happen, and I've got another remuneration review due on July 1 this year, so I think that's the easy way to do it."

He would not say whether he intended to return the money.

Cr Aaron Keown, who had wanted Marshall to remain in place until the 2013 local body elections, said he was disappointed by the decision.

Keown praised the Crown observer's time with the council, saying he had repaired divisions that had threatened the council's performance.

"People come in fighting and swinging and wanting to pick fights, but there's no point to it,'' he said.

''That's been the best thing about Kerry Marshall. He's got us on the same team."

Carter should appoint several Crown observers to advise councils after an increase in new councillors who did not understand procedures, Keown said.

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"It's easy to stand on the outside of council and throw stones and be negative,'' he said. ''Then you get in there and it can cause a lot of conflict and problems because people don't understand policy."

- The Press

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