A survey of council CEO salaries in South Australia has revealed they have increased at a slightly slower rate than CEO’s pay in the private or not-for-profit sector.

SA’s Local Government Association released its survey of Council CEO salaries this week. It shows conservative growth of about 3% over the past four years, in line with SA Public Service CEO salary movements.

The report was prepared by an independent body in an effort to provide a single, publically accessible document detailing CEO salaries across South Australia. Organisers say it will be a valuable source for the media and others, saving them having to contact each council individually.

SA LGA CEO Wendy Campana said it proved top councillors were not receiving exorbitant paycheques: “Sometimes we hear claims that these salaries are outrageously high, but in fact on every comparison we do we find they are appropriate and underneath CEO salaries in similar size organisations in other governments and the private sector,” she said, “councils are extremely aware of both the cost of executive salaries, and the higher costs which can arise if public resources are not managed effectively... the public should be assured that elected Councils take appropriate steps... to ensure they are kept at levels appropriate to attract and maintain the expertise required.”

But Ms Campana says the must be a reasonably-sized carrot on the end of the stick to attract good governance: “While Local Government CEOs do not generally compete with other sectors in terms of their output, Councils do compete with other sectors for employment of staff... councils are open to employment of managers and CEOs from outside of Local Government and we regularly lose staff to other sectors.”

South Australian Council CEO salary information is now publicly accessible in a register at each Council office.