Tartu City Council is discussing a proposal to link future councilors' monthly fees to the average salary. This is to ensure fair remuneration in line with economic growth.
Social Democrat Lemmit Kaplisnki, chairman of Tartu City Council, said compared to other cities, Tartu city commissioners are paid significantly less.
A commissioner receives a monthly fee of €32 and an additional €64 for attending a meeting. The figures date back to 2009.
"This is always a very sensitive issue. For example, some council chairmen do not dare to take the issue to the table at all because they are afraid of negative feedback from voters. If we have fixed amounts, these fees will remain. There is a silly situation where people who could contribute to the council's work are not doing it. I believe this calculation will be best by linking the sum to the average salary. As life in Estonia progresses, these fees should also increase. This is a logical connection," Kaplinski.
Political groups are discussing a proposal to pay a monthly salary of 20 percent of the average salary. In other words, if a council member currently receives a monthly salary of about €100, he or she would receive about €300 under the new agreement.
Vladimir Shokman, chairman of the Center Party faction, said: "It seems to me that this agreement has been reached, that we will link it to the average salary and start calculating these percentages. After all, we cannot choose and rely only on the fact that so-called businessmen and well-insured people sit in the council who don't care about a fee."
The Reform Party also supports the proposal. Chairman of the faction Krõõt Kiviste said 20 percent seems reasonable, but a consensus between the factions needs to be found.
Jüri Kõre, chairman of the Isamaa Party faction, agreed commissioners' salary must be increased but said it should not be linked to the average salary, which usually rises every year.
She said some crises still occur and having officials' salaries rise while others stay the same is not fair.
Similarly, the fees of the chairman of the council and the chairmen of committees and political groups are to be linked to the average salary. These proposals will remain a recommendation for the next council, as the amounts will be determined when the relevant people take office after the local elections.
The final proposal on fees will be made on Friday, it has yet to be approved at next week's council meeting.
Editor: Roberta Vaino