Kohtla-Järve city government to lay off 20, more likely to follow

Kohtla-Järve Mayor Virve Linder.
Kohtla-Järve Mayor Virve Linder. Source: Dmitri Fedotkin/ERR

Municipal leaders in the Ida-Viru County Town of Kohtla-Järve have announced 20 layoffs from city government staff, with potentially more to follow.

The municipality is in financial difficulty, which the town's mayor, Virve Linder, directly referenced as the reason behind the layoffs.

Linder said: "Kohtla-Järve's city budget was short by €7 million this year, while this deficit has not gone anywhere. All our subordinate institutions and the city government need to find very large savings, in order to achieve the goals that was approved in the budget."

Six of the 20 announced layoffs in fact relate to positions currently unfilled, meaning 14 people will actually lose their jobs, from within the city government structure.

Linder added that already: "€500,000 had been deducted from the Kohtla-Järve city government's budget, meaning we don't have many other options but to review the city government structure, optimize our work processes and find the missing funds in this way."

Even the layoffs themselves will not make much in the way of savings for this year, since severance packages must be paid, though next year, €300,000 should be saved from the budget, Linder added.

"Managers have informed their staff and talked to them. The mood is, naturally, very down, because many of these people had been working on the team for decades but have now had to leave their beloved positions. However, unfortunately, the situation is now such that there are no other options left to us," the mayor went on.

While the above layoffs refer to the city government itself, from the broader city administration and municipal bodies, around 100 people will lose their jobs this year, according to Linder.

Virve Linder (Isamaa), a former Viru Prison director, entered office in Febrary, haeding up a coalition which includes the Social Democrats and the Center Party.

This ended months of impasse, after a corruption scandal engulfing the bulk of the city government members, the council chair, and other officials, led to its wholesale resignation.

Years of mismanagement and corruption, centered around local businessman Nikolai Ossipenko, are likely behind much of the need for the streamlining.

The budgetary cuts of which the layoffs form a part were voted in at the council chambers in late March.

Kohtla-Järve has a population of 35,000.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Mirjam Mäekivi

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