A City of York Council boss was paid an extra £36,195 on top of his salary to cover additional responsibilities while the former chief executive Mary Weastell was off sick.
And another senior officer was paid an extra £10,371.54 to take on extra work temporarily while Ms Weastell was off work.
The former council chief executive went on long-term sick leave shortly after the local elections in May 2019, when Liberal Democrat group leader Keith Aspden became council leader.
Ian Floyd, who now holds the council’s top job, was paid an extra £18,875.61 on top of his £128,150 salary in 2019/20 to act as temporary head of paid service while Ms Weastell was off sick.
In 2020/21 he was paid a further £17,319.54, before he was handed the top job of chief operating officer in October.
It is a £145,000-a-year role and he was the only applicant to be interviewed.
However, Mr Floyd was not allowed to continue with his role as section 151, or chief finance officer, while he was covering as temporary head of paid service.
So the council also paid the head of corporate finance an extra £10,371.54 on top of their salary to take on the responsibilities of being chief finance officer temporarily.
Another £36K costs
n addition to the extra temporary staffing costs run up by the council in response to the former chief executive’s departure, the authority has also paid out thousands of pounds as a result of an investigation into its handling of a payout to Ms Weastell.
A council meeting this week heard that the council spent £28,000 on extra audit costs to cover an investigation into its handling of the £404,000 payout to the former chief executive.
And a further £7,900 has been spent on external consultants who have begun work on governance advice, needed for an action plan following a critical public interest report published in April.
The £404,000 payout for the chief executive was agreed at a meeting held in private and chaired by Cllr Aspden, who did not declare a conflict of interest despite Ms Weastell having lodged an employment tribunal claim against him personally and the council.
Independent auditors later concluded that the council paid her £117,000 more than it was required to – with £65,779 of that being an ex-gratia payment, effectively a gift.
After the payout was agreed, the employment tribunal claim was withdrawn.
The audit and governance committee met on Wednesday and heard that work has begun on an action plan, which had to be agreed in response to the auditors’ public interest report issued to the council in April.
The council has asked the Local Government Association for help to implement the action plan and the association is currently putting a proposal together.
Next steps for the council include developing extra training for councillors and senior staff and sending them on the training courses, a review of procedures and working with parish councils to see if they want to adopt the new model code of conduct.
There will also be a review of the system by which the council uses exit payments for staff who leave the authority and a review of how councillors manage conflicts of interest.
What the council say
Debbie Mitchell, chief finance officer, said: “Our senior officer salaries reflect the responsibilities of running a large and complex organisation which provides a wide range of crucial services for over 205,000 people, and as an open council, we publish these salaries and our pay policy annually.
“We follow nationally negotiated rates to attract the right skills, knowledge and experience to deliver quality services to the residents and businesses of York.
“As a result of reviewing our senior management structure, we have so far generated annual recurring savings of £200,000.”