From the file of nutty ideas comes a Christchurch City councillor's thought bubble that the public should have a say in what the city's chief executive gets paid.

Christchurch is debating the salary of Dawn Baxendale, the incoming CEO, who will collect $495,000. This is $80,000 more than the previous CEO and will make her the second highest paid council boss in the country. Mind you it's also the second largest council.

But that hasn't stopped the usual hand-wringing over money. It's been compared to the Prime Minister's wage which is pretty much the same.


And in that is the problem with wages when it comes to big jobs. Especially big jobs that involve taxpayers' or ratepayers' money, and involves activities you can't easily measure by way of things like share prices and bottom lines.

We could also toss in the curve ball that Baxendale joins us from Britain. And under this current Government world view getting foreigners in is not a good thing to be doing, so presumably the Christchurch City Council is telling us there isn't a single qualified CEO around locally to do the job. Are CEOs on the skills shortage list?

Anyway, can you manage the public's input? Those who would be first in line to contribute would be your usual suspects, the ones that hate the wealthy, hate high pay, think everything should be done for free - and they cant understand why you'd need half a million because they'd be happy to do it themselves for half that.

To be blunt half a million isn't actually a lot of money when you see what a CEO of a city deals with. And it gets confused with Prime Ministerial incomes which have an element of public service about them.

A city CEO, especially an imported one, is a professional - someone hired to run a business. There is little, if any, public service, outside the fact they are a professional public servant. If you applied the private sector model, the average CEO in this country is on at least a million and the assets and decisions they control are worth far less than Christchurch's. And you also need to remember given the size of the job, top level skill is required.

We are happy to moan about services and performances, but don't want to pay anyone to do a proper job.

And let's be honest, it might just be me, but it must be hard getting top talent for councils.

Who on Earth would want to run a council with all its inherent issues, the dysfunction, the politics, the wastage, and the PC consultation?


It must be like driving an oil tanker in a swimming pool.

If Baxendale is any good, she's worth half a million and then some.