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.