WREXHAM Council has defended the authority’s chief executive’s pay after claims she received 7.7 per cent more pay in 2008/09 than the year before.

According to a report released by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, Isobel Garner was paid a total of £122,705 – up from £113,895 in 2007/08.

This, according to supplementary information provided by the local authority, consisted of a base salary of £107,472, plus election fees of £14,425 and car benefit of £808.

Wrexham Council said Ms Garner’s salary actually only increased by 2.45 per cent over the course of that year and the increase was down to the fact that greater election fees were given as part of her job as returning officer.

Wrexham Council leader Aled Roberts said: “I don’t recognise the figures and I don’t think they are right. The position is for the last four or five years she’s only had a cost of living increase. There’s no other increase.”

Speaking about the apparent increase in pay which stemmed from being a returning officer he said: “It depends on the elections that take place. In recent years there have been council elections, European elections and there is a general election this year.”

John O’Connell, who put together the report for the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “It is outrageous she has accepted an increase while people living in Wrexham have been struggling with tough economic conditions and people in the private sector are facing redundancy.”

In neighbouring local authorities Colin Everett, chief executive of Flintshire Council, was paid £146,522 in 2008/09.

Figures were not published for Denbighshire, where Mohammed Mehmet took over from Ian Miller as chief executive in November 2008.

In Powys, chief executive Mark Kerr received a salary of £113,588, including election fees of just £100.23.

Steve Thomas, chief executive of the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) questioned the validity of the figures and said chief executives were now on a two year pay freeze until at least 2010-11.

He added: “I suspect they will be on a freeze for years to come.”