Figures released this week show Bridgend council is forking out £32,364 to find a replacement for Dr Jo Farrar, who will step down from the council hot seat at the end of July.
Around £16,000 from the council coffers was spent on various documentation and administrative aspects of the recruitment process. Bridgend Council offices
The job interviews and candidate testing process is costing another £11,500 and a further £5,000 was spent on advertising.
The council, who plan to have the new boss in place before the start of August, said the financial outlay was essential if they are to snare the best candidate for their top job.
At last month's full council meeting, Dr Farrar told councillors: “Yes there is a cost. But we feel that it is important to ensure that you have the best range of candidates.”
But at a time when the authority is balancing shrinking budgets and around 2,000 council employees are facing a pay cut under the ongoing controversial job evaluation process, some feel the spend is “unjustified”.
“I would have a very difficult time trying to explain that amount to my constituents,” said independent councillor for Morfa Peter Foley.
One council employee facing a pay cut under the job evaluation process, who asked not to be named, said: “Spending this money on recruiting a chief executive is an insult to every council employee in Bridgend.”
Robert Oxley, from the Taxpayers' Alliance campaign group, told the Gazette: “Local taxpayers already pay enough for the salary of Bridgend council's chief executive without having to fork out tens of thousands of pounds to recruit a new one.”
The council outsourced the recruitment process to high-end firm Odgers Berndtson, who specialise in filling top end executive posts. Their services cost £16,000.
“There are much more affordable ways to attract candidates than this costly contract,” added Mr Oxley.
But not all councillors agreed.
Laleston representative Cheryl Green, who was council leader when Dr Farrar was appointed in 2006, said the £32,000 would be a drop in the ocean in the long run if it meant the correct candidate was chosen. She said: “In times like these, the figure may seem extravagant but if you get the wrong person in that position it could cost us a lot more than that.
“It cost a lot when we recruited Dr Farrar but she made £1m of savings in her first year.”
The Gazette understands that long listing for the £131,091-a- year chief executive job took place yesterday.
Candidates will undergo two days of interviews and tests before shortlisted candidates are presented to the full council and have final interviews next Wednesday.
A Bridgend council spokesman said: “We are committed to finding an exceptional candidate to lead our organisation of 8,000 staff in delivering a wide range of critical services.
“Like many other public sector bodies, we have engaged external specialist recruitment expertise to help us find and appoint the best person for the job.”