Widespread pay freezes in the public sector are also affecting council chief executives, with some agreeing to wage cuts or foregoing bonuses over the past year, according to research.
A study of over 300 local authorities in England and Wales showed median salaries of £142,000 for the top executives in the year to March 2011, unchanged from the previous 12 months.
Senior executive pay has been tempered by the wage freezes seen across the public sector, said the report by pay analysts Incomes Data Services (IDS).
New senior vacancies are being advertised at a lower rate of pay in some authorities, while a number of chief executives have taken pay cuts or not taken up bonuses, said the report.
Jessica Matthews of IDS said: "It seems that the costs of town hall management are starting to come down. Fuelled by pressure from all quarters, chief executives' pay has barely risen at a time when inflation was nearer to 5%.
"Pressure over senior level pay in the public sector meant that there were very few pay increases, with a handful of chief executives even taking pay cuts as public scrutiny intensified."
"Similarly, the voluntary waiving of bonuses by a minority of chief executives reflects a broader trend of restraint over the last year as it seems that receiving incentives while freezing or cutting the salaries of more junior staff has become unacceptable. Bonus payments were never large or widespread at senior levels in local government but where incentive schemes exist, payouts have been scaled back significantly."
Some authorities were "sharing" chief executive posts or even discussing scrapping the job altogether to save money, said the report.
Local Government and Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said: "I am encouraged to see the brakes are being applied to Chief Executive pay - in the current economic climate public sector pay hikes are indefensible to the taxpayer.
"The transparency code and Localism Act are opening up pay practices and senior salary arrangements to public scrutiny so that taxpayers know with certainty that local pay is fair, fit for purpose and fully 'democracy proofed'."