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.
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"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.