New Alicante mayor raises his wages by 160 percent just after taking office: reports

Spanish media is reporting that a newly elected mayor for a town in Alicante province has decided he and his closest associates should get an eye-catching salary increase compared to their predecessors' earnings.

New Alicante mayor raises his wages by 160 percent just after taking office: reports
Newly elected Popular Party (PP) mayor for Pilar de la Horadada José María Pérez Sánchez. Photo: YouTube ScreengrabAyuntamiento Pilar de la Horadada

Residents of Spain’s Valencia region are no strangers to scandals involving their political class, but usually the money at the centre of it all is syphoned off under the table rather than publicly announced in minutes available to the press. 

It was with this boldness that Pilar de la Horadada’s new conservative town council decided that its top tier of politicians – including its mayor – should allocate themselves between 100 and 160 percent more in wages than their socialist predecessors.

Newly elected Popular Party (PP) José María Pérez Sánchez will therefore allegedly be paid €51,800 a year for 37 hours of weekly work, compared to the €19,950 earned by the previous PSOE mayor Ignacio Ramos García, leading Spanish right-wing daily El Mundo reported.

During their first plenary session, other PP town councillors for Pilar de la Horadada joined in in the wages bonanza: three will reportedly earn €44,800 a year for full time work, six will cash in €36,000 annually for 30 hours a week and one will get €7,000 for 6 hours a week.

All this contractual splurging, which represents an overall wages increase of 100 percent for the whole PP team, is happening in a town of no more than 21,000 inhabitants, 66 kilometres from Alicante city.

Photo: Jose Luis Salgado/Flickr

The council also ruled that there was no conflict of interest with the mayor continuing to run his other businesses while holding office, considering it of “marginal importance”, Catalan daily La Vanguardia and numerous other newspapers reported.

Local town councillors and opponents for PSOE and centre-right party Ciudadanos have labelled the salary bump-up as “shameful” and “exorbitant”, in large part perhaps because they will now earn an average of €500 a month.

Their calculation put the increase in expenses for El Pilar de Horadada’s public coffers somewhere between €500,000 and €1million.

“There are now two types of councillors in El Pilar: business class and economy class,” one socialist councillor commented.

In 2018, Spanish TV channel Cuatro carried out an investigation into allegations of cronyism in the then PSOE-run town hall, which at the time had 355 civil servants. 

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Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president

Police raided the offices of FC Barcelona on Monday, carrying out several arrests just six days ahead of the club's presidential elections, a Catalan regional police spokesman told AFP.

Barçagate: Police raid FC Barcelona offices and arrest former president
Barcelona's former president Josep Maria Bartomeu is among the arrested. Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Spain's Cadena Ser radio said one of those arrested was former club president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October, along with CEO Oscar Grau and the club's head of legal services.

But the police refused to confirm names, saying only “arrests are taking place” and adding that the operation was being run by officers from the financial crimes unit.

“We are in the process of carrying out an operation right now with agents of the financial crimes unit,” the police spokesman told AFP.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the operation is linked to last year's investigation into the 'BarçaGate' scandal, which saw the club deny hiring a company to criticise current and former players on social media to improve the image of the then-president Bartomeu.

Cadena Ser said Barca paid €1 million in six separate invoices to the company I3 Ventures, with whom the club have since cut ties.

Bartomeu resigned in October, after mounting pressure following months of controversy and a dramatic decline in performances on the pitch.

His successor is due to be elected on Sunday, when club members will choose between the final three candidates, Joan Laporta, Toni Freixa and Victor Font.