24 Oct 2014

Severance pay labelled 'hush money'

9:57 pm on 24 October 2014

A former Christchurch city councillor is calling the severance pay handed to the outgoing chief executive 'hush money'.

Tony Marryatt.

Tony Marryatt Photo: RNZ

Former chief executive Tony Marryatt took home close to $800,000 in final payments, according to the council's 2013-2014 Annual Report.

The council yesterday publicly released the report containing details of the remuneration paid to Mr Marryatt between July and November last year.

Mr Marryatt resigned from the job in September 2013 after being suspended on full pay since July.

His resignation followed the fallout over the under-insurance of the earthquake-hit city's assets and the loss of its ability to issue building consents.

The report shows he received a salary of $239,530 between July and November. As well, he got $269,264 in severance pay, $181,276 for accrued leave and $93,206 'outstanding annual increment'.

Ex-councillor wanted court to decide

Former Christchurch City Councillor Aaron Keown is labelling the severance pay as 'hush money'. He said he had wanted Mr Marryatt's severance pay to be decided by the courts, but was voted down in favour of privacy.

Mr Keown said the discussions between the council and Mr Marryatt's lawyers were protracted and, when they turned ugly, he pushed for them to be decided by the courts.

"Once it turned really ugly I didn't want it done behind closed doors. I believe it should have gone to court and so I voted against the payout which stopped it going to court.

"I would have preferred it went to court and all the people of Christchurch and New Zealand could have seen what went on."

Mr Keown said he had also wanted the discussions held in a public space.

Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the agreement reached between Mr Marryatt and the previous council last year was confidential and she could not comment further.

The New Zealand Taxpayers' Union said it appeared Mr Marryatt accepted a $93,206 pay rise that he had previously publicly said he was declining.

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