Municipal councillors in Bulgaria’s largest cities – Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna – have voted themselves large pay increases, with salaries for councillors in the capital city increasing from 210 leva to 1171 leva.
In Sofia, defending the increase, a councillor for the city’s ruling party GERB, Iskra Angelova, said that 200 leva for the work of a city councillor was “mildly insulting”.
“We have to emphasise the fact that we are engaged daily in the work of Sofia municipal council, many times from morning to night,” Angelova said.
The change in Sofia was voted on the basis of a councillor’s salary being 70 per cent of that of the chairperson of the municipal council.
The increase in Sofia municipal councillors’ pay was adopted near-unanimously, with only nationalist VMRO councillor Angel Dzhambazki abstaining.
Sofia councillors also voted new penalties of five per cent of salary for missing a committee meeting and 10 per cent for absence from a meeting of the full council.
In Plovdiv, the basis for the change is different. Councillors will get 20 per cent of the salary level of the council chairperson, and a separate two per cent for participation in committees. This means that in Plovdiv, salaries will be close to that of the mayor, at about 1200 leva.
In the Black Sea city of Varna, the proposed increase was from about 136 leva a month to just more than 1000 leva.
In Plovdiv and Varna, councillors also voted into effect similar financial penalties for absenteeism. In Varna, this will extend to failure to participate in voting, a measure instituted because of what local media called the habit of Varna city councillors to register as present at the beginning of meetings and then absent themselves from the rest of proceedings.
In the city of Blagoevgrad, councillors voted to double their monthly salaries to about 500 leva.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)