Council top brass under fire over ‘huge’ pay packets


Brendan Hegarty

THE chief executive of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Brendan Hegarty was among 17 senior council officials who received financial packages of over £100,000 last year.
Analysis by spending watchdog, The TaxPayers’ Alliance, examined pay packets at councils across the UK covering the 2016-17 year. It showed Mr Hegarty was Fermanagh and Omagh District Council’s top earner with a total remuneration of £127,200, including £21,200 in employer pension contributions.
Last October, the Herald first reported that Mr Hegarty earned a salary of £106,000 in 2016/2017. The figure was down from £108,000 on 2015/16 and revealed in the council’s financial statements for the year ended March 31st 2017.
When appointed Fermanagh District Council chief executive in 2011, Mr Hegarty commanded a salary of £76,452, with increments. Following his appointment as the boss of the new amalgamated Fermanagh and Omagh Council in February 2014, his salary increased to £110,000. The new payscale for the top position in the North’s 11 new super councils, which began operation in 2015, was set at between £95,000 and £110,000.
The Council organisation consists of the Chief Executive’s Department and four Directorates. These Heads of Service are Celine McCartan (Corporate Services and Governance), Alison McCullagh (Regeneration and Planning), Robert Gibson (Community, Health and Leisure) and Kevin O’Gara (Environment and Place), each of whom earns a salary of £81,000.
TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive, John O’Connell has criticised the high remuneration paid to council bosses.
“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.”
He added: “There are talented people in the public sector who are trying to deliver more for less, but the sheer scale of these packages raise serious questions about efficiency and priorities.”
A spokesman for Fermanagh Omagh District Council said the local authority is required to pay pension contributions for all its employees and in addition employees also make pension contributions out of their own salary. In the case of Mr Hegarty he is required to pay 10.5% of his salary as employee contributions towards pension. The pension contribution rates for both employer and employee are determined by the pension scheme provider – NILGOSC.
“Pay for all Council employees including the chief executive is set and agreed nationally and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council implements the nationally agreed pay and terms and conditions for all employees. In the case of the Chief Executive this salary scale was determined in November 2013 prior to the establishment of the new Councils on 1 April 2015 and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council have continued to apply this nationally determined salary scale,” the spokesman added.

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