The cost of a council CEO

So is our CEO worth an annual package of $360,000?

Sunshine Coast Regional Council CEO John Knaggs is running an organisation employing between 2700 and 2800 people with a budget of more than half a billion dollars.

And, in the private sector, it’s not unusual to find CEOs earning incomes measured in millions.

Telstra boss Sol Trujillo, for example, earns $13.4 million although, ironically, he supports US president Barack Obama’s capping of executive salaries in companies receiving government aid to $US500,000 ($A759,640).

And “millionaire’s factory” Macquarie Group last year paid boss Nicholas Moore and his predecessor, Allan Moss, $30 million each.

The Sunshine Coast council’s chief executive officer earns more than Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd and premier Anna Bligh.

At $360,000 a year, John Knaggs trumps Mr Rudd’s $330,000 and Ms Bligh’s $269,000.

It does not, however, match neighbouring Moreton Regional Council CEO John Rauber’s $367,000 and is an average, full-time worker’s wage behind the $410,000 salary, not including bonuses, Brisbane City Council CEO Jude Munro is paid.

“The package John gets was the level advised at the time for the position advertised,” mayor Bob Abbot said.

“There was a significant lack of private-enterprise applications; most of those who applied were from the public service or local government.”

Mr Abbot said the salary was not big enough to attract private-sector interest.

As for Mr Knaggs’ performance, he said, he had “started to hit his straps”.

“It has been an enormous amount of work (in this first year),” he said.

“John’s capacity to put people from the right positions into the right jobs is good.”

Mr Abbot said while the council was not a corporation, the comparisons were there.

“We need to remember if this was a private business of nearly 3000 employees, a $670 million-dollar budget and $4.6 billion in assets you won’t get someone for two and six.”

Mr Knaggs said as far as assessment of his worth went “I think others need to judge that”.

He also sought to point out the $360,000 was a package, not simply a cash component.

Recent speculation surrounding pay rises for some Queensland council officials had not reached him, he said.

“I have not received any pay rise (since I started),” he said.

“I would think you would have to complete 12 months before getting a salary review.”

Mr Knaggs was acting CEO during the formation of the new Coast council last March. He did not take up the position permanently until August.

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