22 Aug 2012

Debt-ridden council paid $240,000 to former boss

12:45 pm on 22 August 2012

A Kaipara ratepayers group says it is outrageous that the council's former manager received a severance payout of nearly $250,000.

Kaipara District Council chief executive Jack McKerchar resigned late last year after details emerged about the council's soaring debt levels and illegal rating.

Mr McKerchar oversaw the borrowings for a sewerage scheme at Mangawhai that has led to a debt crisis, with the council owing more than $80 million.

Information released by the council this week shows he was paid $240,000 when he left.

His salary had been $199,000, plus a car. In the four months before his exit, he received $100,000 in what was described as salary and entitlements.

The chairman of the Mangawhai ratepayers group, Bruce Rogan, says there was no good reason for a golden handshake and if Mr McKerchar resigned - as the council said - he should not have received anything.

However, if he was pushed, Mr Rogan says ratepayers are entitled to know why and the reason for the severance deal.

Mr McKerchar worked for the council for 18 years and at the time of his resignation cited health concerns as his reason for leaving. He declined to comment on Tuesday.

Clive Boonham, a retired solicitor who was the first to point out that the council's rating processes for the sewerage scheme were unlawful, says the severance payment is more a platinum handshake than a golden one.

Mr Boonham says ratepayers caught in the financial fiasco Mr McKerchar left behind will be wondering why the mayor agreed to the payment.

All elected councillors have resigned and the Government is replacing the council with commissioners.