ADUR and Worthing councils chief executive Alex Bailey is in line for an £11,000 salary rise in a compromise deal reached by councillors.
A report to the joint senior staff committee on Thursday recommended increasing Mr Bailey’s spot salary from £104,000 per year to £125,000.
But councillors felt a £21,000 rise was too much, instead voting in favour of an £11,000 increase, to be ratified by full councils later in the year.
The pay review was promised upon Mr Bailey’s appointment in 2013 and followed a performance review and change in job specification in April.
Adur District Council leader Neil Parkin, who carried out the review alongside Worthing leader Dan Humphreys, said: “We thought he was doing a first class job.
“We have been very impressed. When he took on the job he was promised a review and he took a hit in salary to come here, which is something I will be taking into account.”
The meeting heard a list of Mr Bailey’s achievements, which included saving £330,000 in a senior management restructure, transforming the council’s digital infrastructure and setting the council’s corporate strategy.
Councillors were told how Mr Bailey’s salary was low compared to other chief executives of shared councils.
Liberal Democrat leader Keith Sunderland said: “One thing I was impressed with when employing the directors was the amount of people who said they were interested in the job because of Alex Bailey.
“I am obviously concerned that we keep those directors because they have made a big difference. I personally feel that the whole character of the administration has been changed now.”
Speaking from the public gallery, UKIP leader Charles James questioned the independence of the report and whether a 20 per cent pay rise was fair when other staff faced minimal rises.
He clashed with Conservative Kevin Jenkins, who said the UKIP councillor had ‘not once raised’ anything negative about Mr Bailey’s tenure.
Summarising the debate, Mr Humphreys praised the work of Mr Bailey but suggested a rise of £21,000 was too large to award in one go. He was unanimously supported in recommending a lower rise of £11,000.