Auditor-general Odysseas Michaelides has once more raised the issue of mayoral pensions, urging the finance and interior ministers, as well as MPs, to review the 2011 regulations put in place on the initiative of the Union of Municipalities (UoM), which more than doubled the pensions of local government heads, it was reported on Thursday.
According to media reports, Michaelides sent a letter on Monday to the two ministers and to heads of House committees asking to be briefed on any actions taken on reviewing these regulations, which were adopted by the majority of municipalities. In some cases, Michaelides said, pensions exceed the salary mayors used to get while in service.
The 2011 regulations provide for an increase in mayors’ minimum monthly pensions from €598 to €1,200 if they served one term, and to €1,500 for more terms. Widows of mayors also get a minimum pension of €900 or €1,000 per month.
Regulations also call for the reevaluation of the minimum pension each year.
“What is remarkable is that the regulation provisions also apply in cases of mayors who served before January 1, 2011 (when they were put in force) meaning all previous mayors,” said the audit office’s latest report on local government.
“This issue is being discussed for years,” head of UoM and Larnaca Mayor Andreas Vyras told the Cyprus Mail.
He added that the union would discuss the matter on mayoral pensions soon and announce its decision.
Vyras also said that the regulations in question were approved by the interior ministry.
Daily Phileleftheros cited a case of a mayor who had didn’t draw his salary while in office, and was receiving a monthly pension of €257. After the regulations were put in effect, his pension skyrocketed to €1,500 as he had served more than one term.
Another case, the daily said, concerns a widow of a mayor who died while in office. The woman used to receive a monthly pension of €619, which was increased in 2011 to €900.
The audit office has been raising the issue on the regulations concerning mayoral pensions since 2012 as this puts a strain on the already cash-strapped municipalities. The new measure, the 2015 audit office report said, “demands substantial amounts of money to cover increased needs that arise or that will arise”.
But despite warnings, the UoM had stressed the need some two years ago for all pensions received by elected officials to be reviewed, citing the huge gap between mayoral pensions and those of MPs.
The UoM had said back then that without their contribution several big projects would not have materialised, while the matter of their pensions dates back 25 years when former Nicosia mayor Lellos Demetriades was heading the UoM.