Tallinn throws €132,000 to «thank» officials

Edgar Savisaar

PHOTO: SCANPIX

Elections year in progress, mayor Edgar Savisaar awards his staff with six months of incentive wages and tries to classify sums, for years.

At the end of May, Mayor of Tallinn Edgar Savisaar decreed substantial bonuses for his employees and declared his directives a secret till 2020.

Incentive wages have been paid before, in Tallinn. And the practise will continue. Never before, however, has this been concealed. Neither were the officials’ achievements assessed in such a hurry, at half year point, in 2012.

This year, Mr Savisaar deemed it necessary to appoint incentive wages to city office employees, people at various departments and district elders; the decision was marked as «for internal use», meaning the document will not be public for seven years.

An inquiry posted to Data Protection Inspectorate, to check the legality of such secrecy, left the city without options, as the inspectorate replied: «Hereby, a mandatory precept is issued towards holder of information: to remove the illegal restrictions to access incentive wages directive, and to forward copies of the said directives to claimer of the information.» Data Protection Inspectorate added a warning that, should the precept be disregarder, a penalty of up to 300 fine units shall be imposed for misdemeanour.  

Information claim by Postimees was answered by city office. Prior to that, the office had notified Data Protection Inspectorate it had contested the precept in Tallinn Administrative Court. The possible fine by inspectorate (€1,200), however, should not have overly troubled the city government, seeing how lavishly they have rewarded staff with taxpayer’s money. 

To city secretary Toomas Sepp, for instance, the mayor decreed €3,050 of incentive wage for 1st half of 2013, on May 29th. Another directive, bearing the same date, prescribes incentive wages to all heads of city agencies and district elders. The sums come between €1,100-2,640, €34,600 all in all.

Mayor won’t explain

For a reminder: without an exception, city district elders are Centre Party people. The best performers, in their labour, Lasnamäe elder Olga Ivanova, Northern Tallinn elder Karin Tammemäe, and Haabersti elder Marek Jürgenson, all getting €2,220 extra money.

A third directive, this time bearing the signature of city secretary Toomas Sepp, dating May 31st 2013, awards employees of city office services and departments incentive wages totalling €94,340 for «achieving goals set for 1st half year of 2013, based on achievements by servants and on proposals by directors of various fields and department heads». 

Postimees asked the mayor or city government representatives for explanation regarding the limits to access; however, these declined and referred the newspaper to city secretary Toomas Sepp – as the one who would answer all questions. As explained by Mr Sepp, the incentive wages are based on the new Public Service Act (PSA), entered into force as of April 1st, pursuant to which, within a year, 20 per cent of an official’s basic wages may be added thereto.

«Payment of incentive wages shall be determined by heads of administrative agency, guided by employee evaluation and achievement of goals specified by job descriptions and other documents,» said Mr Sepp. According to him, appreciating the servants is a priority in city’s personnel policy, helping to fulfil public task with excellence. «When determining incentive wages, no-one looks into the clouds. This is no subjective selection.»

Covering electoral costs suspected

According to vice chairman of Tallinn city council, social democrat Jaak Juske, a payment scheme. «The secrecy is unheard of, and illegal,» said Mr Juske.

The now Reform Party member Ain Seppik, of Tallinn city council, thinks we have to do with the same sort of a scheme as with remuneration for Mr Savisaar’s book. «There is no need to pay incentive wages at half year mark. Why do this on an elections year? Well, in order to cover the party’s electoral costs,» said Mr Seppik. «My claim is backed by the fact they tried to classify the sums.»

When it came to contesting the Data Protection Inspectorate’s precept in court, Mr Sepp explained the city is not satisfied with the state’s political selection; also, he delved deep into various interpretation of law. «Pursuant to the new PSA, a new group has been created next to official – employees,» he begun.

«Here, we have to do with a political selection by the state, not taking into account proposals by Tallinn regarding the expediency of dividing servants into officials and employees,» substantiated Mr Sepp.

«The important part being that the new PSA does not extend to employees; to them, rather, applies the Employment Contracts Act, which lays on employers the duty not to publish wages of employees without their consent.» As employees of the city gave no consent to reveal their wage numbers – that is why the seven year restriction to access.

Mr Sepp stuck to the letter of the law, avoided commenting on incentive wages at half year on threshold of elections, and stated that as PSA, Employment Contracts Act and Public Information Act are subject to differing interpretations, judicial practice lacking in these issues, the city desires an assessment by the courts.

Effective people serving Tallinn

By directives of mayor Edgar Savisaar, incentive wages are awarded for 1st half year results to:

•    Toomas Sepp, city secretary – €3,050

City district elders:

•    Marek Jürgenson, Haabersti – €2,220

•    Mihhail Korb, Kesklinn (City Centre) – €1,600

•    Andrei Novikov, Kristiine – €1,350

•    Olga Ivanova, Lasnamäe – €2,220

•    Helle Kalda, Mustamäe – €2,080

•    Erki Korp, Nõmme – €2,080

•    Tiit Terik, Pirita – €2,080

•    Karin Tammemägi, Põhja-Tallinn (North Tallinn) – €2,220

City agency heads:

•    Andres Pajula, education agency – €2,640

•    Vello Ervin, enterprise agency – €1,880

•    Relo Ligi, environmental agency – €1,100

•    Ain Valdmann, utilities agency – €2,640

•    Aini Härm, cultural heritage agency – €2,220

•    Anu Hallik-Jürgenstein, city planning agency – €2,500

•    Einike Uri, city assets agency – €2,220

•    Rein Ilves, sports and youth agency – €2,220

•    Karin Kask, perekonnaseisuameti juht – €1,330 eurot

Directive by city secretary Toomas Sepp regarding payment of €94,340 as incentive salaries:

City office employees:

•    Moonika Batrakova, adviser to mayor – €500

•    Tony Smitt, adviser to mayor – €250

•    Jüri Kuuskemaa, adviser to mayor – €250

•    Juhan Paadam, adviser to mayor – €250

•    Peeter Lukanenok, adviser to city government – €250

•    Asser Jaanimets, adviser to deputy mayor – €600 eurot

•    Jaanus Martinov, adviser to deputy mayor – €300

•    Siret Kotka, adviser to deputy mayor – €500

•    Jelena Kalbina, adviser to deputy mayor – €230

•    Betina Ferman, adviser to deputy mayor – €300

•    Kersti Otteson, adviser to deputy mayor – €600

•    Oksana Jalakas, assistant adviser – €500

•    Tõnis Mölder, assistant adviser – €250

•    Jekaterina Laidinen, assistant adviser – €250

•    Darja Leonova, assistant adviser – €300

Services

•    Kaarel-Mati Halla, city development director – €2,360

•    Allan Alaküla, head of EU agency in Tallinn – €840

•    Ain Saarna, PR director – €2,640

•    Katrin Kendra, finance director – €3,000

•    Vilja Meister, administrative director – €2,360

•    Väino Olev, IT director – €2,500

•    Arvo Teder, internal auditor – €2,640

•    Esta Heinmaa, personnel director – €2,500

•    Priit Lello, legal director – €3,000

In addition to that, incentive wages have been appointed to all employees of the services, ranging between €40-800.

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