From Liverpool Echo
Wirral's next chief executive could be paid even more than the current £135,000 top rate for the job - if the authority decides to appointment a replacement for the outgoing boss.
Wirral council chief executive Graham Burgess surprised many people just over a week ago when he announced his decision to retire after just over two years in the top job.
Following this opposition councillors have questioned the need to find a replacement and Tory leader Jeff Green said the council should also look at the possibility of sharing a chief executive with another authority.
Council leader Phil Davies said he was “open to having the debate” about the future of the role, but said his own preference was to have someone in place as a chief executive.
His comments came as the authority published a timetable for finding a new council boss which could see the job remain unfilled until May 2015.
A report prepared for the employment committee which meets next week recommends the use of recruitment consultants at a cost of around £15,000 - and also says the salary of the role should be looked at “to ensure that this is appropriate within the context of the size and scope of the authority and competitiveness in the market”.
A table accompanying the report puts Wirral near the bottom for salaries for the top job, which range from £130,000 in Rochdale to £203,934 in Manchester.
But Tory leader Jeff Green said: “The first question which has to be resolved is do we need a chief executive at all, or can we share a chief executive.
“We were also told that the outgoing chief executive was working on a management restructure that would save £1.5million and do we need to see what that restructure is before we look at how much a new chief executive should be paid.”
Cllr Green added: “I cannot see how we can justify increasing the salary at the same time we are looking at making savage cuts to key services such as lollipop men and women, libraries and closing a school like Lyndale.”
But council leader Phil Davies said: “We need to review the salary we currently pay, which is fairly low in terms of other authorities, and I at least want to have that discussion.”
He also said he was surprised Cllr Green was suggesting sharing a chief executive, but said he would “not rule that out” - although he said his own preference was for Wirral to appoint a new chief executive.
He said: “I understand, at a time when we are looking at making cuts, people may not like the idea of bringing someone in on a high salary, but we need someone in a position to make savings and hopefully that person will pay for their salary several times over.”
Cllr Davies also said the senior management restructure was “on hold” but those savings were needed and he had asked senior staff - including Graham Burgess - to review them.