The Tallinn City Council's opposition parties are crying foul over two public service campaigns in Põhja-Tallinn, one of the capital's eight administrative districts, that critics say are nothing more than the Center Party's political ads paid for with taxpayer money.
One of the campaigns comprises posters at Stroomi beach depicting a photo of the city district elder, Karin Tammemäe, who invites city residents to free Nordic walking, family and health-related events, reported Eesti Päevaleht.
Another poster, which covers the side of an old schoolhouse on Sõle street, features a large-scale photo of deputy elder Priit Kutser, and says: “In two years a sports complex with a swimming pool will be located here.”
It isn't the first time Põhja-Tallinn (North Talinn) has been accused of using taxpayer money for party propaganda. During the 2011 holiday season, Tammemäe ordered the printing of 8,000 wall calendars that included a photograph of herself and a deputy. It came to light that the calendars cost taxpayers 10,800 euros.
The district administration's spokeswoman, Katrin Hinrikus, said that the latest posters were a public service and the photos were necessary because someone had to take responsibility for seeing through the completion of the projects.
The posters were paid for by taxpayer funds, but the district government would not disclose their costs.
The incident shows that the Center Party has mixed up public and party funds, according to the Reform Party's Vilja Savisaar-Toomast, the ex-wife of Tallinn's mayor and herself a potential mayoral candidate in Tallinn in the upcoming local elections.
"The poster campaign being conducted two months before the elections is clearly political and its only aim is to carry out an election campaign for its future candidates at the expense of city residents,” said Savisaar-Toomast.
Other party representatives took issue as well. A Tallinn city councilor for IRL filed a complaint with Parliament's party finances committee. And a Põhja-Tallinn administrator representing the Social Democrats submitted an official query to find out how much the posters had cost.