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Watford Borough Council's redundancy bill last year was more than £500,000
Top Watford council bosses were given golden handshakes of more than £70,000 each as the borough’s redundancy bill ballooned to £500,000 last year.
Figures from Watford Borough Council ’s accounts showed two senior officers received £83,000 and £77,435 payoffs respectively when they left the council last year.
Their payoffs came as a total of 24 employees were made redundant at the council between April and April 2011 at a total cost of £559,415.
The latest figures dwarf what the council spent on redundancy the year before - a total of £86,249 in redundancy payouts going to seven employees.
However, Watford’s elected mayor Dorothy Thornhill said the large payouts would save money in the long run as it meant high-earning employees had ended their contracts early.
She said: "We are trying to get down our head count. We are trying to get down the revenue budget and we pay the redundancy out of the capital budget.
"It is almost spending money to save money."
She also said the amount in the payouts was determined according to a national framework.
Figures showed the top redundancy earner at the council last year walked away with £83,044. The council said it could not reveal which worker received the payoff but the Watford Observer understands it went to the council’s former head of property, who left last summer.
The second highest earner was the council’s former executive director of resources, Tricia Taylor, who left in April.
She was given £77,435 in severance, which came on top of her basic pay of £98,906 and pension payments of £26,507, giving her an overall pay package last year of £202,848.
The figures showed that two other workers had redundancy packages of between £40,000 and £60,000 which totalled £94,168 and there were nine redundancy payouts under £40,000 amounting to £232,906.
The rest of the 11 council workers who received redundancy got payouts of under £20,000 totalling £71,862, meaning an average payout of just over £6,500. The latest redundancy figures come after a year when the council has been reorganising its top management structure.
However opposition politicians expressed surprised at how large some of the council payoffs had been. Nigel Bell , the leader of the Labour group, said: "I was surprised at the figure. I knew they had to make quite a few redundancies but I was surprised it was so high."
Councillor Bell said now so much money had been spent on slimming down the number of top officers it was important more were not reappointed at a later date.
He added: "We have to keep an eye on the wage structure."
Mark Jeffery, a spokesman for Watford Borough Council added: "We have been, and are continuing to reduce our costs.
"Last year the Government outlined they were reducing funding to councils by around 30 per cent.
"Reducing the senior number of people working for the council is a key part of our strategy to save money.
"Although there may be one-off redundancy costs, doing this helps us to meet our tough savings targets over the following years. Fortunately we've also been able to ensure we continue to deliver good quality, popular services for local people."