More than a dozen staff at West Sussex County Council earn at least £100,000 per year, a report has revealed.
In its annual ‘town hall rich list’, the Taxpayers’ Alliance also claimed a further 18 staff within the district and borough councils broke the £100k mark for salary/pension in 2017/18.
Over the past few years, councils all over the county have fought to balance their budgets, receiving less and less money from central government and having to make spending cuts of their own to make ends meet.
But many felt the high salaries paid to their top staff – particularly the chief executive – were in line with those of other councils and helped them to attract and keep the best people for the job.
At the county council, the top earners included chief executive Nathan Elvery, who was paid £190,000 with a £46,930 pension.
Others were the director of adults’ services – £119,382 and £29,487 pension; the director of finance, performance & procurement – £123,347 salary and £30,467 pension; the director of education & skills – £110,000 salary and £27,170 pension; and the director of highways & transport – £110,000 salary and £27,170 pension.
The report listed a total of 16 high-paid roles at the county council, including two – with salaries of £112,500 and £117,500 – which were listed as ‘undisclosed’ but a spokesman said he ‘did not recognise’ them.
At Mid Sussex District Council, the chief executive Kathryn Hall earned £129,775 and £24,560 pension.
Simon Hughes, head of digital at MSDC, said: “Our chief executive has guided us through a tough period of austerity and has overseen new ways of working that have generated millions of pounds of savings without making cuts to front-line services.
“She recognised the dangers of being reliant on government grant funding and as a result we are now on the path to financial self-sufficiency and in a better position to invest in better services for local people.
“It is a key position within the council and we must offer a competitive salary if we are to attract and retain the most effective leaders.”
The other high-paying post was assistant chief executive, with a salary of £84,254 and pension of £16,106.
At Chichester District Council there were three high-paying posts.
Chief executive Diane Shepherd earned a salary of £117,739 plus pension of £23,385.
The figures for the executive director of environment and the executive director of support services and the economy were the same – £94,533 salary and £18,744 pension.
A council spokesman said: “Chichester District Council is committed to providing value for money to its taxpayers and has saved over £3.5m over the past two years and is on target to achieve a further £1m.
“Senior managers, including the chief executive officer, are paid less than their predecessors.
“The CEO’s salary has not increased, except for inflationary awards, and it is comparable with similar roles in other councils of this size.
“It is important that we continue to offer a comparable salary so that we retain the right person with the right skills to deliver this important work and lead the council forward through these challenging times.”
At Arun District Council, chief executive Nigel Lynn pocketed a salary of £118,000 while his pension contributions were £24,000.
The director of place, who is responsible for areas such as development control and economic policy, earned a £90,000 salary plus £16,000 pension.
The figures were the same for the director of services.
A council spokesman said: “The chief executive leads the organisation and therefore has the highest level of accountability for a wide range of services across the whole of the Arun district.
“Arun has one of the largest populations in West Sussex, serving more than 160,000 residents.
“The remuneration of the chief executive is recommended by the council’s remuneration committee and the decision is democratically endorsed by full council.
“This committee comprises of elected councillors from the main political parties and determines the pay of the chief executive on appointment and annually thereafter.
“The remuneration committee takes into account recommendations concerning performance from the chief executive appraisal panel.
“It also reviews market data relevant to chief executive pay for a large district such as Arun.”
Horsham District Council queried the accuracy of the figures published in the Taxpayers’ Alliance report, which listed the chief executive as earning a salary of £125,460 plus £23,217 pension.
The current chief executive Glen Chipp took over from Tom Crowley last April. Reports at the time said his position had been advertised with a salary of up to £112,000.
A spokesman for the council said: “The figures quoted are for the financial year 2016/17 during which period our former chief executive received an annual salary of £112,000, but also received an additional payment of £7,800 in Returning Officer fees.
“For the 2018/19 financial year Horsham District Council’s Chief Executive salary including any Returning Officer fees is calculated at £112,900.
“The combined salary with pension contributions is £136,000.
“The Horsham District Council chief executive salary for the current chief executive was set in line with other chief executive salaries across West Sussex and is lower than the salary the current chief executive received in his previous chief executive role at Epping Forest District Council.”
The figures for Crawley Borough Council gave the impression that chief executive Natalie Brahma-Pearl earned tens of thousands of pounds less than her peers.
While the report listed her as earning a salary of £87,471 plus £18,456, these figures were pro rata as she only started work in the June of 2017.
Her annual salary was reported at the time to be £114,508.
The other high earner was the head of legal, who earned £84,652 salary and £17,659 pension.
Adur District Council and Worthing Borough Council operate a joint management team, with Alex Bailey as chief executive.
The Taxpayers’ Alliance report listed his salary in 2017/18 as £120,438 plus £25,412 pension.
However, between November 2017 and June 2018 he was on secondment to the the NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, reducing his council role to three days a week.
It was reported at the time that his salary had been reduced to £70,000 during that time – with the CCG offering him a wage of £56,000 – saving the council £38,360.
The other high earners at Adur were the director for digital & resources – salary £95,726, pension £20,198, the director for the economy – salary £93,849, pension £19,802, and the director for communities – salary £92,920, pension £19,606.
Adur and Worthing councils have been approached for comment.