Worcestershire County Council will pay its new chief executive up to £170,000 despite needing to cut £98m from its budget.

Trish Haines, the current CEO of the council, is stepping down to take early retirement and the council has begun looking for a replacement.

The organisation has placed an advert on the Guardian's job board, which says the new CEO will earn a staggering £151,000 ($246,000, €180,000) to £170,000. The prime minister earns £142,500.

Astonishingly, the Conservative-led Worcestershire council says it needs to cut £98m from spending by 2017 to cope with large funding reductions.

The authority's cost reduction programme will also see 600 jobs scrapped.

"The council is fast losing the confidence of the people we were elected to serve," councillor Peter McDonald, Labour group leader, told the Bromsgrove Advertiser.

He added: "The days of big salaries in excess of the prime minister are outdated - it shows utter contempt for the people of this county who are struggling to cope in these unprecedented hard times."

But councillor Adrian Hardman, leader of the county council, argued the remuneration package needed to be attractive.

"It should be an attractive job and we've had quite a lot of enquiries already, including a fair bit of interest from the private sector," Hardman said.

He added: "Commercial experience will be the key, we need someone who can think differently from the traditional local government model."