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Little or no pay rise for the chiefs


Wairarapa council chief executives earned a combined $753k last financial year with only Masterton’s boss, on more money than the year prior.

But compared with similarly sized districts in New Zealand, Masterton’s chief executive is significantly underpaid.

Former Masterton District Council chief executive Kath Ross was paid a total remuneration of $254,000 last year, a 2.9 per cent pay increase on the year prior, the council’s annual report shows.

Ross resigned in August and has since been replaced by David Hopman.

Her remuneration was almost double that [187 per cent] of the average household income of $88,000 in the Masterton district.

With about 28,000 residents, Masterton has a similar population to South Taranaki district, which pays its chief executive $315,000.

South Waikato, which also has a similar population to Masterton, pays its council boss $285,000.

However, with a population of about 48,000 residents, Wairarapa pays significantly more for its three council bosses compared with similarly sized areas covered by one council.

Gisborne District Council, which serves a population of about 50,000 residents, pays its council boss $322,000.

Taupo District Council, which serves a population of about 40,000 residents pays its chief executive $327,000.

A Carterton District Council spokesperson said its former chief executive Jane Davis had a contractural remuneration package of $222,000 for 2021, the same as the year prior.

They said a figure of nearly $250,000 cited in their annual report included total remuneration paid to Davis, including her accumulated annual leave paid out in her final pay, and payments made to interim chief executive Blair King in May and June 2021.

“This makes comparability with the other councils difficult, so it is probably easier to give the total contractual package.

“The chief executive’s contractual total remuneration package for the 2021 year was $222,446.

“This was the same as the contractual remuneration for the 2020 year. Actual amount paid out in 2020 as per annual report was less than this due to unpaid leave taken.”

Davis made headlines in recent years for choosing to take a 12-month salary sacrifice of 10 per cent from May 2020 to May 2021 amid covid-19 economic difficulties.

The money saved on her salary was put into a grant fund that was available for small businesses in Carterton to access.

Davis was later replaced by Geoff Hamilton.

Annual reports show South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Harry Wilson was paid a total remuneration of $250,000 in the 2021 year, the same as the 2020 year.

Although pay rises in recent years for the top dogs at Wairarapa councils have been minimal or none at all amid a global pandemic, their remunerations are a far cry from what they were in 2015.

Former Masterton boss Pim Borren’s remuneration increased nearly 12 per cent from $210,000 to $235,000 that year.

Also in 2015, former South Wairarapa boss Paul Crimp’s remuneration was $187,000 and former Carterton boss Colin Wright earned $192,500.

Each year, councils are legally obliged to carry out a formal review of the performance and salary of their chief executives. — NZLDR

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