North Ayrshire Council’s Draft Annual Accounts for 2012/13 reveal the combined salaries of just six senior officials cost local taxpayers £639,198.
Top earner was Chief Executive Elma Murray who was paid £126,597. Ms Murray received a further payment of £1,689 in relation to her duties as North Ayrshire’s Electoral Returning Officer.
Ian Mackay, the Council’s Assistant Chief Executive and Senior Legal Officer, received £126,068 before retiring on December 31 last year. The draft accounts also reveal one member of staff, believed to be Mr Mackay, was paid an ‘exit package’ of between £200,001 and £250,000.
Three Corporate Directors – Carol Kirk (Education & Skills), Iona Colvin (Social Services & Health) and Laura Friel (Finance & Infrastructure) - were each paid £99,390. Craig Hatton was promoted to the post of Corporate Director (Development & Environment) on October 15 2012: his salary for the financial 2012/13 – from his previous job and the promoted post – totalled £86,674.
The Draft Accounts record the combined salaries of North Ayrshire’s 30 councillors in 2012/13 cost taxpayers more than half-a-million pounds – £553,483. In addition, councillors also claimed expenses totalling £50,663, an increase from £38,692 in the previous year. Combining salaries and expenses, the total paid to elected members in the last financial year was £604,146.
Including the remuneration believed to have been paid to Council Solicitor Ian Mackay on his retirement, the Council agreed a total of 89 ‘exit packages’ for staff during 2012/13, which totalled £3,634,232. Data in the Draft Accounts show that in addition to Mr Mackay’s pay-off, four staff members received between £100,001 and £150,000, while another five took home between £150,000 and £200,000.
In a foreword to the Report, SNP Council Leader Willie Gibson thanked all of the local authority’s staff for the skills and commitment they showed in delivering the Council’s core outcomes. However, Cllr Gibson also sounded a note of caution, saying, “The Council recognises that the financial challenge faced by the public sector is likely to be deeper and last longer than had been originally anticipated. The Scottish Government’s budget was reduced as a result of the UK Budget in March 2013: and the 2015/16 Spending Review will be published in June 2013: it’s not clear what impact these will have on local authority budgets. These financial pressures sit alongside the demographic challenge of an ageing population.”
Cllr Gibson said that despite already identifying savings of £21m into 2015/16, further service changes “will require to take to place”.
The SNP councillor added, “A significant challenge for the Council and communities of North Ayrshire during 2012/13 has been the introduction of Welfare reform. The Council has been proactive in supporting residents and our approach to implementing the legislative changes has been to mitigate, as far as possible, the impact of these.”