Revealed: 20 Northern Ireland council officials earning more than £100k a year
TaxPayers' Alliance queries salary scales as services hit
Twenty senior council officials in Northern Ireland received financial packages totalling more than £100,000 last year.
Six work for Belfast City Council while four are employed by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council, a report revealed.
Analysis by pressure group The TaxPayers' Alliance, covering 2017-18, has a council-by-council breakdown detailing all employees whose remuneration exceeds £100,000.
It showed Belfast City Council chief executive Suzanne Wylie was the top earner with a total remuneration of £162,250, including £24,750 in pension contributions.
Belfast City Council said the salaries for chief executives in the 11 local councils were set independently "as part of a robust and independent job evaluation exercise" during local government reform in 2015.
It said Ms Wylie's salary takes into account the fact that Belfast City Council is the largest local authority here and is also benchmarked against comparable public sector posts.
The salaries of other directors in the council, it said, were also set after an independent evaluation of the job roles and the scale of the functions the directors are responsible for in a city authority.
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The council added: "This also took account of the ability to attract the necessary calibre of senior staff to these roles.
"The overall figure quoted includes basic salary as well as pension contributions.
"Pension contributions for both the employer and employee are set by Northern Ireland Local Government Officers' Superannuation Committee.
"Belfast City Council publishes its audited accounts annually and this includes remuneration levels of all senior staff."
The TaxPayers' Alliance has criticised the high remuneration.
Its chief executive John O'Connell said: "The average council tax bill has gone up by more than £900 over the last 20 years and spending has gone through the roof.
"Disappointingly, many local authorities are now responding to financial reality through further tax rises and reducing services, rather than scaling back top pay.
"Despite many in the public sector facing a much-needed pay freeze to help bring the public finances under control, many town hall bosses are continuing to pocket huge remuneration packages, with staggering payouts for those leaving their jobs.
"There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less, but the sheer scale of these packages raises serious questions about efficiency and priorities."
The next highest-earning council chiefs were Liam Hannaway and Roger Wilson, chief executives of Newry, Mourne and Down, and Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon respectively.
Mr Hannaway received £138,950, including £21,150 for his pension and £300 in expenses, while Mr Wilson was paid £138,650, including £21,150 in pension contributions.
NILGA, the organisation that represents local government here, said pay packets "were numerically and proportionately lower on many levels" when compared with salaries paid in Wales, England and Scotland.
It added: "Senior officer leadership and resilience is crucial for the 11 councils in Northern Ireland, and senior officers now require significant skills and competencies.
"Versatile, motivated and productive people delivering high quality, affordable services is the very least the public deserves.
"As a recent independent review of chief officers' pay in Northern Ireland showed, after market testing, our pay rates for this group are in keeping with what is needed to retain and recruit.
"No increases therefore were recommended in Northern Ireland.
"It's pleasing that all NI's councils have adopted this prudence, despite the new pressures faced by officers and council members in the absence of a legislative Assembly for the third year running."
NI council staff earning more than £100,000
Antrim and Newtownabbey -
Jackie Dixon, Chief Executive - £134,250 including £20,250 in pension and £1,500 in expenses.
Ards and North Down -
Stephen Reid, Chief Executive - £113,500 including £1,000 in expenses.
Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon -
Roger Wilson Chief Executive - £138,650 incl £21,150 for pension.
Mike Reardon, Strategic Director (People) - £120,950 incl £18,450 for pension.
Sharon O'Gorman, Strategic Director (Position) and Olga Murtagh, Strategic Director (Place) - each received £103,250 incl £15,750 for pension.
Belfast City -
Suzanne Wylie, Chief Executive - total remuneration of £162,250 including £24,750 in employer pension contribution.
Ronan Cregan - Director of Finance and resources - £126,850 including £19,350 for pension.
Gerry Millar - Director of property and projects - £120,950 including £18,450 for pension.
Nuala Gallagher, Director of City Centre Development; Nigel Grimshaw - Director of City and Neighbourhood Services and John Walsh, City Solicitor - each received £115,050 including £17,550 for pension
Causeway, Coast and Glens -
David Jackson, Chief Executive – £132,750 including £20,250 for pension.
Moira Quinn, Director of Corporate Services – £103,250 including £15,750 for pension.
Derry City and Strabane -
John Kelpie, Chief Executive - £132,750 including £20,250 for pension.
Fermanagh and Omagh -
Brendan Hegarty, chief executive - £132,409 including £20,198 for pension.
Lisburn and Castlereagh –
According to the TPA, this council either did not publish their 2017-18 accounts in time or no employees were paid enough to qualify for inclusion in the list.
Mid & East Antrim –
Anne Donaghy, Chief Executive – £132,750 including £20,250 for pension.
Karen Hargan, Director of Community Planning - £109,150 including £16,650 for pension.
* Karen Hargan is no longer an employee of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council.
Anthony Tohill, Executive management team – £132,160 including £20,160 for pension.
Newry, Mourne and Down -
Liam Hannaway, Clerk and Chief Executive - £138,950 including £21,150 for pension and £300 in expenses.