SEVEN Hampshire County Council bosses received rewards of up to £15,000 each on top of their six-figure salaries.
This is despite repeated assertions from council chiefs that the authority does not pay out bonuses.
And it follows last week’s revelation that three senior executives at the authority had salaries in excess of £150,000 – which is more than the Prime Minister.
In total, seven chief officers were given one-off special payments worth £87,000 over the past two years, the equivalent of the pay of four librarians who are facing the axe.
Under new Government regulations, councils now face unprecedented scrutiny of pay and perks for the top earners.
For the first time local authorities are forced to name all senior employees taking home more than £150,000 with those earning more than £100,000 listed by job title.
Details of their salary, employer pension contributions, bonuses, redundancy pay-offs and other perks should be included in annual accounts for 2009-10 to promote transparency and public accountability.
The county council last week published a list of its high earners showing the one-off extra payments, described as “other emoluments,” to senior executives in the past two years.
In 2008-9, the largest single payment of £15,000 was made to Andrew Smith, chief executive, on top of his £204,723 salary and £39,878 contribution to his pension. His total package was £259,601.
John Coughlan, director of children services, and Jon Pittam, former county treasurer, who were then both on a salary of £155,715, each received an extra £12,500 the same year.
Four other chief officers were showered with an extra £10,000 each.
In total, £80,000 was paid out in one-off extra payments in 2008-9 and £7,000 in 2009-10.
Asked why he had previously said the authority did not pay-out bonuses, council leader Councillor Ken Thornber said: “In industrial relations law, bonuses or performance payments are enshrined within an employee’s contract of employment.
“Hampshire County Council has no such provision within the contract of employment for any of its staff.
“We do, however, recognise exceptional performance with special recognition payments on a one-off basis.
“In 2008-9, Hampshire County Council was assessed under the Corporate Performance Assessment (CPA) as a top-performing county council. Accordingly, I decided to make such a payment to each director.”
But Christine Melsom, chairman of anti-council tax group IsItFair, condemned the cash rewards for high earners.
She said: “The directors are already receiving six-figure salaries from the taxpayer to do a good job. There should not be any extras.
“Some people are really struggling to pay their council tax bills while these extra payments worth tens of thousands of pounds are handed out. It’s very, very wrong.”
The county council is planning to axe 65 out of 463 library posts to avoid a £1.3million overspend on the £18m library services budget.