Despite the onset of a global recession, the wage bill at Perth and Kinross Council has soared by more than £18 million over the last two years.
Figures obtained by The Courier using freedom of information legislation reveal the average local authority employee earns over £3000 per year more than they did before the downturn.
Meanwhile, those working in the chief executive’s department have seen their wages rise by an average of 40% an increase of more than £10,000 per person.
The council’s total wage bill for 2008-09 was almost £168 million, compared to just under £150 million in 2006-07 and £134 million in 2004-05.
Throughout Scotland thousands of jobs have been lost as businesses attempt to fend off the worst economic downturn for decades.
However, statistics requested by The Courier reveal the number of staff employed by the council has stayed largely static as the wage bill has rocketed.
Last night Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser said every single resident of the local authority area deserves an explanation of how their taxes are spent.
He also accused the council of growing at an “unsustainable” rate.
The £167,868,492 paid out in wages by the council last year was shared by some 5965 staff an average of more than £28,140 for each employee.
Among the best paid council employees were the 76 in the chief executive’s department who between them pocketed £2,720,087 last year an average of £35,790 per person.
However, those who were working in the same department two years ago could expect to earn an average of just over £25,400.
Mr Fraser said hard-pressed local families who have been tightening their belts will be “dismayed and angry” at the revelations.
He also claimed that there had been no discernible improvement in the services on offer.
“These figures show that Perth and Kinross Council’s wage bill has been growing and growing every year, and rapidly so over the last couple of years during the recession,” he said.
“It is important that the council is totally transparent in regards to the massive increase in the wage bill and taxpayers must know whether they are getting value for money.Millions extra”The people of Perth and Kinross will be wondering where the money has been going and why they are having to pay millions extra every year for their council services.
“Since the recession hit Scotland, the private sector in Perth and Kinross and across Scotland has had to tighten its belt.
“A number of local businesses have had to freeze wages and other businesses have had to cut working hours and staff to keep their business viable during the recession.”
He called on local authority chiefs to offer a full and frank explanation of just why wages have risen so much and why staff are worth the increases.
“The council must justify to all taxpayers in Perth and Kinross what it has been doing with their taxes,” he said.
The freedom of information officer who dealt with The Courier’s request pointed out that, as part of the national single status agreement, the council introduced a new equal pay and grading structure in August 2007.
She also stated that the local authority was one of the “leanest” in Scotland.
“The implementation of the new pay and grading structure had a significant impact on the immediate and longer term staffing costs associated with single status employees, specifically in relation to addressing historical pay inequalities between males and females,” she explained.
“Perth and Kinross Council is one of the leanest in Scotland in terms of the number of employees we have per head of population.”