COUNCILS in Sunderland and Durham paid 30 members of staff £100,000 or more in 2011/12.
They shelled out almost £4million to their top earners, according to figures released by the Tax Payers’ Alliance.
The right-wing campaign group claimed Sunderland City Council employed eight people on six-figure salaries, one fewer than the year before.
At Durham County Council, the number on £100,000 or more rose by five from 2010/11 to 22 last year, the twelfth-most of any local authority in the UK.
According to the figures in the report, called the Town Hall Rich List, Sunderland City Council chief executive Dave Smith was paid a total of £240,445, making him the highest-earning council official in the region.
But civic centre bosses insisted the figure is misleading, as it takes into account pension contributions and income for other duties, such as acting as a returning officer in elections.
However, the authority declined to comment further on the Tax Payers’ Alliance study.
The survey claimed that the top earner at Durham, chief executive George Garlick, took home £226,477 last year.
And in total, 10 members of the 22 highest-earning staff at Durham received more than £120,000.
Again, council bosses dispute the figures published.
Don McLure, corporate director of resources at Durham County Council, added: “Far from increasing the number of staff paid more than £100,000, we have in fact reduced that number.
“The published figures include one-off redundancy payments to a number of staff, as a direct result of our commitment to reduce management costs by at least 30 per cent.
“It is therefore disappointing that this progress is not made clear in the information released.”
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “It is good news that the number of senior council staff making more than £100,000 a year is finally falling, although that may only be because many authorities have finished paying eye-watering redundancy bills.
“Sadly, too many local authorities are still increasing the number of highly paid staff on their payroll, some of whom are given hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation just to move from one public sector job to another.
“Residents won’t be impressed if their council pleads poverty when it is demanding more and more council tax, only then to spend it creating more town hall tycoons.”