INCOMES of mayors in some Slovak towns exceeded the wages of Slovak government members in December. Some town councils approved their mayor’s year-end benefits amounting to hundreds of thousands of crowns, the Pravda daily wrote. Marián Michalec, the mayor of the 20,000-strong town of Púchov, received a benefit of Sk540,000. Much bigger regional capitals were not so generous, and some of their mayors were even left without any extra money.
Michalec received the benefit for the completion of the town centre and good economic management. He donated a portion of the taxed benefit of about Sk410,000. “As every year, I donated part of the benefit to municipal projects, the Púchov hospital and the town’s scholarship programme,” said Michalec, whose monthly wage is Sk84,500.
Pavol Nechala from the corruption watchdog Transparency International Slovensko asks whether the granting of such high benefits, which mayors use for supporting town projects, is not misused for political purposes. “This way the municipality pays the mayor a pre-election campaign,” he told the daily.
There are more mayors who received benefits in hundreds of thousands of crowns. The council of Spišská Nová Ves with 40,000 citizens divided more than Sk2 million in benefits. The town’s mayor, Ján Volný, got Sk360,000 and his vice-chair received Sk205,000.
To compare incomes of the municipal officers with top state representatives, the monthly wage of President Ivan Gašparovič is Sk265,000 while Prime Minister Robert Fico receives roughly Sk130,000. The ministerial wage is about Sk100,000.
Bosses of regional town councils, who were more hit in the eye, cannot enjoy such generosity. Žilina mayor Ivan Harman openly said after the Christmas council session that he does not want to give the chance for the opposition to criticise and that he wants no benefits. In the summer he received a half-year benefit of Sk270,000, for which he gained large criticism from the local opposition.
There were no benefits for the mayors of Banská Bystrica, Trenčín and Košice. The Bratislava city council has not yet decided about its previous year’s benefit for Mayor Andrej Ďurkovský.