As council's continue to face hefty cutbacks and redundancy programmes the latest town hall rich list shows one chief excutive from the region walked away with almost £400,000 last year.
Gateshead's Roger Kelly came in at number seven in the top 10 highest renumerated council executives in the country as he retired last year.
The authority stressed the figure included his pension payout accrued over 25 years and that its senior management costs are actually coming down.
But the Taxpayer's Alliance insists the figure is still too much.
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Teesside Crown Court heard the 61-year-old made more than a million pounds profit running Albert Skip Hire in Darlington without a permit.
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