Council boss gets $32K bye-bye bonus

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Queenstown Lakes District Council boss Duncan Field finished his job yesterday with an exit payment of about $32,000.

Equivalent to six weeks of Field’s annual $277,785 package, the payment was kept quiet by Queenstown Lakes District Council until a Mountain Scene Official Information request.

It’s unclear if the money is a “goodwill payment” or a let’s-not-fight concession – mayor Clive Geddes sees it as both.

Mountain Scene: A goodwill payment? 

Geddes: “Yeah.”

Geddes says Field suggested his employment contract – which expired yesterday – called for “a payment in lieu of notice” and QLDC agreed.

MS: An element of goodwill?

Geddes: “I think there is, yes, but it’s all about assessing risk.”

MS: So there was a risk that had council not agreed to Duncan’s request …

Geddes: “No, there was no risk – there was no risk if council met its full obligations under the contract on a basis that enabled no room for there to be any space for a dispute.”

QLDC wanted “no room at all for any chance of a dispute or personal grievance”, Geddes says.

Field, who ran QLDC for 12 years but wasn’t reappointed, also gets his $12,000 annual performance bonus – despite the latest financials to October showing a $594,000 loss against a budgeted $1 million surplus.

Geddes didn’t attend a last supper for Field and wife Claire at the upmarket Boardwalk on Tuesday – “That was managers only.”

QLDC will pick up the Fields’ tab, Geddes says, but senior managers and partners – believed to number 15-20 – paid their own way.

“Maybe the council will pick up the wine for the evening,” Geddes adds.

Boardwalk is a leading resort restaurant, hosting former US president Bill Clinton in 1999 – starters are $13-$22.50, mains $28.90-$82.

Another Field farewell in the Memorial Hall last night was for “wider staff” of QLDC and its quangos, Geddes says – just “a few drinks and nibbles”.

QLDC finance boss Stewart Burns is acting chief executive until Field replacement Debra Lawson joins on March 1.