Explain the $240,000 - Rogan

By Mike Barrington

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The release of a former Kaipara District Council chief executive's severance-payment details raise more questions than answers over his resignation, a ratepayers representative and former councillor says.

Former Kaipara councillor and now chairman of the Mangawhai Ratepayers and Residents' Association Bruce Rogan said the reason the council ended Jack McKerchar's employment contract and gave him a $240,000 payment should be disclosed.

The agreement provided Mr McKerchar with $200,000 for lost salary through ending his contract a year before its expiry date, $20,000 for compensation and $20,000 to cover the costs of his career transition. Mr McKerchar said the settlement was achieved on an amicable basis.

But Mr Rogan said the deed of settlement released this week made it clear the council had decided to get rid of Mr McKerchar.

Mr Rogan said it hadn't been explained why such action had been decided and it should be made clear why Mr McKerchar had left and why he had been paid such a figure.

He considered the commissioners now governing the Kaipara district should explain what had happened.

"If suppression of this issue continues, suspicions will continue to bubble away," Mr Rogan said.

Chairman of commissioners John Robertson said the settlement was made a year before commissioners were appointed and he had no idea why the council had paid out Mr McKerchar, nor how they established what had been a sizeable amount to pay him.

"The previous elected members are accountable for the decisions that led up to the settlement, not the commissioners," he said.

Former deputy mayor Julie Geange said the council had not made its decisions about Mr McKerchar's departure and the severance payment "based on thin air".

She said the council had sought legal advice and that Mr McKerchar's employment contract had been a factor.

Earlier employment law specialist Blair Scotland, from the Chen Palmer law firm, said that without seeing the employment contract he was unable to comment on the $200,000 Mr McKerchar received for lost salary through ending his contract a year before it expired.

The council accepted Mr McKerchar's resignation after considering it behind closed doors on August 2, 2010. Minutes of the meeting make no reference to the reasons for his departure or the severance payment.

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- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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