New council boss takes $40,000 salary hit

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New high-flying Queenstown Lakes District Council chief executive Adam Feeley has taken a major pay cut for the role. 

Feeley, who just finished a three-year stint running the Government’s Serious Fraud Office, will see his annual salary drop from more than $340,000 to $305,000 when he starts this coming Tuesday. 

The qualified lawyer was being paid somewhere between $340,000 and $349,999 as SFO chief executive, the State Services Commission revealed when releasing public sector pay packets last week. 

Feeley, speaking to Mountain Scene this week as he was making his way south, says it’s the second job in a row he’s taken a pay cut. 

“But it’s always about doing the job you love, not about what you get paid … as simple as that.” 

Despite the drop, Feeley’s council salary is still $55,000 more than was being paid to his pre­decessor Debra Lawson, as revealed by Mountain Scene last month. 

At the time, Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden said two factors influenced councillors to increase the rate: “The quantum of the person we were getting, the experience and the skills – and where the market had moved to, unfortunately.” 

Asked if Feeley had asked for the higher rate, Van Uden said: “It was a negotiation, basically.” 

Meanwhile, Feeley, on a five-year contract, is wasting no time putting a stake in the ground – he’s already bought a six-hectare spread at Arrowtown. 

Feeley says he bought it just after he’d secured the council job but had already been looking for a Wakatipu bolthole for three or four years. 

“It actually had nothing to do with the job. We were always going to buy anyway. I just figured it’d be a few years before I got down there.” 

Feeley says he’s looking forward to becoming part of the community but doesn’t plan to say too much publicly during his first few months. 

“I don’t want to be the new boy in town who has got an opinion on everything – I just want to fit in,” he says.
Feeley had a five-year appointment at the SFO but resigned after three years once he’d secured the Queenstown role. 

Prior to his SFO gig, Feeley was chief executive of the Eden Park redevelopment board responsible for overseeing the upgrade of the Auckland sporting venue before the Rugby World Cup last year.