Auckland Council chief executive Jim Stabback has received a $30,000 pay rise, taking his salary to $630,000.
The 5 per cent increase was approved 12 votes to eight behind closed doors by Mayor Phil Goff and councillors in mid-December and backdated to September 1 last year.
The council is also negotiating a possible 6 per cent pay rise for staff after inflation hit 5.9 per cent for the December quarter. This would cost the council $57 million and take the wages bill to $1 billion for the first time.
Stabback's pay rise came 12 months into the job. The previous chief executive, Stephen Town, earned $698,000.
High salaries are a sensitive issue at council. The head of a review into council-controlled organisations (CCOs), Miriam Dean QC, says they rile the public and Goff says no one in the council group should be paid more than the council chief executive.
There was a public outcry when the Watercare board, under the leadership of Margaret Devlin, gave a series of pay rises to chief executive Raveen Jaduram, taking his salary to $775,000.
Goff defended Stabback's salary increase, saying his pay is now the same as what Town started on in 2014 and sits within the middle of the salary range agreed to by the Governing Body when the chief executive started in September 2020.
"The salary adjustment followed the appointments and performance committee reviewing the chief executive's performance in September. The committee recognised the chief executive's performance in what was a challenging first year."
Goff said the council continues to take a restrained approach to all spending, including salaries and must compete with the private sector and central government to keep experienced and skilled staff.
Albany ward councillor John Watson said the council paid the previous chief executive too much.
"This vote kick-starts an upper trajectory once again and at the worst possible time with businesses struggling with the financial effects of the pandemic and rates set to rise yet again this year.
"An alternative suggestion to recognise the chief executive with 'time in lieu' instead of a big salary increase was not taken up," Watson said.
How councillors voted
For the pay rise