ALGA president Geoff Lake said that the salaries of local government CEOs reflected a competitive job market and that it was essential for councils to recruit the most skilled candidates.
“This is the sort of story that gets trotted out by tabloids and radio stations once a year," Cr Lake told GovernmentNews.com.au.
"The reality is local government has to pay the market rates for public servants at such senior levels and what local government pays is fairly commensurate with what state and federal public servants, at comparative levels, are paid."
Cr Lake said that most people weren’t aware of what state or federal bureaucrats were paid, and that local government was being unfairly scrutinised because of its transparency.
“The pay [of local government CEOs] is publicly and readily available and people have a lot greater appreciation of the role of a senior local government executive than they do of senior state or public service executive,” he said.
“We’ve seen in the last five years an unprecedented situation in the employment market where there has been a lot of competition amongst employers for skilled managers. The effects of that have been to make it harder for councils to find the sorts of talent they need at senior management levels.
“In order to fill those positions with appropriately paid and qualified people, essentially councils have had to pay salaries that have been determined by that broader public servant market.”
Cr Lake’s comments were made after it was revealed last week that Brisbane City Council chief executive Jude Munro received a $70,000 pay rise, taking her salary to $410,000 and reports that Sunshine Coast Council chief executive John Knaggs earned more money than the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
Local Government Association of Queensland (LGAQ) president, Cr Paul Bell defended the salaries of local government chief executive officers in Queensland.
“Local government today is a billion dollar industry. Councils need to employ quality CEOs to ensure the resources and assets of councils are managed efficiently and utilised effectively in the interest of the community,” he said.
Clint Weber, president of the Local Government Managers’ Australia (LGMA) Queensland branch said that CEO appointees for local government positions were sourced from all tiers of government and the private sector.
“To attract and retain quality personnel, councils have to offer suitable and contemporary remuneration packages,” Weber said.
“The salaries offered by councils today are dictated by the current employment market and have generally been determined after an independent assessment of the job has been undertaken by a private sector company, which specialises in such employment matters, such as the widely-known and respected firm, Mercers,” he said.
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