The chief executive of Sheffield council faces having his job axed or his responsibilities diminished if voters in the city opt for a powerful elected mayor.
Government officials have confirmed new, directly-elected mayors will become the most senior officers on their councils, responsible for staffing.
Sheffield’s chief executive John Mothersole’s salary is £184,585.
The government is planning to lay an order in Parliament later this year which will turn the leader of Sheffield Council, as well as the leaders of 11 other cities, into so-called “shadow mayors”.
The shadow mayors will rule until May 2012, when a referendum will be held to decide whether the mayor model of local government should continue.
For areas that vote in favour, mayoral elections would be held in May 2013.
Responsibilities would include the co-ordination of the council’s different functions, staffing levels and structures.
Liberal Democrats in Sheffield are opposed to the government’s plans.
Deputy council leader Coun David Baker has said the system “causes more problems than it solves”.