The latest annual report also showed six staff members earned between $300,000 and $340,000 and six staff earned between $340,000 and $700,000.
A $400,000 severance payment for a top executive is not a good look for Auckland Council.
Employment law expert Max Whitehead says it's an extremely large sum.
He says severance cheques are usually written to get organisations out of awkward situations.
"I suspect councillors that could embarrass them, or could embarrass public officials, it is likely then they are going to fork out public money to get rid of it."
It emerged yesterday during the council's latest annual report that it paid 28 severance payments in the last financial year, worth nearly $1 million.
The top single payment was $405,000 - the reason for the payment and the person who received it are not detailed in the report.
The next highest severance payment was $68,202.
Whitehead said huge severance payments usually only go to people who've got the money to fight for them.
Whitehead said low-ranking workers wouldn't have a shot at that kind of deal, because they wouldn't be able to fund the muscle to get it.
"The executives will engage very good lawyers because they're on $200,000 or $300,000 per year and that intimidates councillors.
"And of course if it gets into the public arena that gets more frightening for them."
The Council's chief executive assured Mayor Phil Goff the payment was appropriate, but Mr Goff has referred it to the Auditor General.