Auckland Council's new chief executive says he realises his salary is lower than his predecessor's because the council wanted to send a strong signal to the public.
Stephen Town's salary has been set at $630,000 for the first two years, a big drop from the $768,740 paid to his predecessor Doug McKay.
Mr Town, with 35 years' experience in the education, local government and transport sectors, said he expected Mr McKay to have been paid a premium for what was an extremely challenging task of merging eight councils into the Auckland Council.
He accepted his lower salary was designed to send a political message, which he believed was part of a mood shift by the Government and councils to keep chief executive pay in check.
"I don't think you have got public sector chief executives in New Zealand who would be feeling like the person at The Warehouse [Mark Powell]. He could always give some away if he is feeling that uncomfortable about it," Mr Town said.
Prime Minister John Key gives a "good part" of his $428,500 salary to charity.