Devon County Council’s (DCC) new chief executive will be net around £200,000 a year after the authority backed a pay rise for the role.
Members agreed the new terms and conditions last week as part of the process to replace outgoing Dr Phil Norrey who is retiring from the job after 16 years.
Mr Norreyis entitled to around £175,000 a year but earns just over £160,000 after taking a reduced salary and declining pay rises for a several years.
A report to councillors concluded a rate of ‘circa £200,000 would be required to attract a permanent new CEO, writes Local Democracy Reporter Ollie Heptinstall.
It added: “Salaries generally within the council have not kept pace with others in the public sector.”
Members were told the pay rate is now ‘substantially out of kilter’ when compared to chief executives of similar-sized local authorities.
Several councils – including Surrey, Hampshire and Gloucestershire – pay more than £200,000.
Neighbouring Somerset County Council this week appointed a new CEO on £195,000 a year.
The report added: “Recruitment and retention is an increasing challenge for all authorities and, at a senior level, there is a relatively small pool of appropriately-qualified and experienced individuals.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Alan Connett branded the move the ‘wrong thing to do’.
He said: “As we all know, there is a cost-of-living crisis out there. My view is that the chief officer on £175,000 is probably quite well…able to cope with life.”
The increased salary was voted though despite several Lib Dem, Labour, Green Party and independent councillors opposing it.
Dr Norrey is retiring at the end of August.
Former county solicitor Jan Spicer will become interim chief executive until a permanent replacement is appointed. The new pay package does not include the interim role.