Labour-run Cardiff council is considering rebadging the authority’s top job when current chief executive Jon House steps down next month.
Replacing the post of chief executive with a “city manager” with fewer responsibilities and a lower salary is one of three options being considered, WalesOnline understands.
Another is to merge the position with a neighbouring local authority, such as Caerphilly or the Vale of the Glamorgan. The third option is to maintain the status quo and replace like-for-like.
Mr House, who resigned last month after just under three years at the helm, is one of Wales’ highest-paid public officials.
He was hired on a salary of £176,000 in September 2010 and currently earns £184,000, plus about £40,000 in pension contributions.
It’s understood a city manager would be paid between £150,000 and £170,000.
The justification for the 15% wage drop is that the new post would be focused on internal council issues and have a reduced external profile.
It comes after the Welsh Government was last week forced to agree to make the pay of council chief executives subject to an independent regulator.
Cardiff council’s former corporate director Paul Orders is one of those rumoured to be in contention.
Mr Orders relocated to New Zealand in 2011 where he earns £175,000 as chief executive of Dunedin City Council. He had been at Cardiff for 13 years.
He declined to comment when approached by the Otago Daily Times.
The city’s mayor, Dave Cull, also told the newspaper: “I’m not going to comment on speculation in the British press. That’s all it is.
“That would be adding my speculation to the newspaper’s speculation.”
The three options are expected to be outlined in a cabinet report due to be published on Thursday. Any changes will have to be agreed by the Employment Conditions Committee and the full council.
Liberal Democrat group leader Judith Woodman said stripping down the role of chief executive would be a “bad move”, saying: “Don’t forget, this is a capital city and the council is the largest employer in Wales.
“As well as managing staff, the chief executive is the face of the city and builds relationships with national and international partners.”
Conservative group leader David Walker said: “You could make a case for the (chief executive) salaries being too high, but the balance has to be on attracting the excellent candidate we need.”
A council spokeswoman said: “The recent resignation of the chief executive has given the cabinet an opportunity to further review the senior management structure and as a result Jon House has been asked to draft a report containing a number of options to be considered by cabinet.
“Once the options have been discussed, any proposal will be taken to the Employment Conditions Committee.”