Delta chairman Grady Cameron is ending his stint looking after Dunedin's run-down electricity infrastructure with an almost $1 million payout.
The news comes in Delta's annual report, which also notes the number of the 616 staff paid more than $100,000 at the Dunedin City Council-owned company has increased from 88 in the 2015-16 financial year, to 111 in 2016-17.
But it is the more than $980,000 payout to Cameron that has drawn new criticism.
Cameron indicated earlier this year he would leave after pressure from critics who said he failed to ensure lines company Aurora's network was properly maintained. Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull yesterday said the "significant severance payment" seemed excessive for a publicly owned entity.
The $980,000 exit package includes Cameron's more than $560,000 salary.
Cameron could not be contacted last night, but Steve Thompson, who was Delta chairman during the last financial year, said while he understood the sentiment, the payout was part of a contract that had to be honoured.
The annual report came in a council agenda, released yesterday, for a meeting on Tuesday.
The report showed the company performance was steady, but included payouts and staff wages bound to anger critics of the company.
Cull released a statement at the same time as he was contacted by the Otago Daily Times.
He said when he was made aware of the payout he made his concerns clear to DCHL chairman Graham Crombie.
"I understand that executive salaries need to be market-based and that legally neither I nor the council can interfere in the operations or employment arrangements of the companies.
"However, I have sought and received assurance from Mr Crombie that he has worked with the companies to ensure that the employment terms and conditions for company executives show restraint while also being fair to employees."
Thompson said last night he was unable to discuss the composition of Cameron's payout.
"I can't do that.
"Every individual contract is confidential between the employer and employee.
"Payments that have been made are payments we have been contractually obliged to make, and so we made them."
Thompson said he could also not say whether there was a performance bonus in the payout, nor whether or not there would be any more termination payments to Cameron when he left his role as chief executive of Aurora at the end of the year.
On the expansion of the number of staff earning more than $100,000, he said the numbers reflected market reality in the energy industry.
"At the moment there's very high demand for skilled people."
Delta was doing a lot of work on the network, which had increased as pressure had gone on Aurora to replace its infrastructure.
"That is just the market price of getting people who are appropriately skilled and expert to do the work on the network that we need.
"Many of those were highly trained specialists, engineers and experienced line workers."
There was also an overtime element.
"Our staff work hard."
Thompson said he agreed with Crombie's response the company needed to ensure restraint while also being fair to employees.
The company wanted to do that, but needed to meet the market.
"I won't make any apologies for the market.
"We have a lot of work to do, and we have to meet the market.
"But we certainly acknowledge the sentiment expressed by the DCC, and DCHL."