TALLINN — The salary of the director of Foundation Tallinn 2011, the organization coordinating the city’s upcoming European Capital of Culture events, has come under fire for being exorbitant.
After inquiring Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar about the organization, Madis Kübar, the Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Party regional development manager, is indignant about the salary of the foundation’s CEO Mikko Fritze. At 82,000 krooni (€5,240) a month, it’s higher than the salary of Estonia’s president.
“It is weird, that the city can pay someone a higher salary than the president’s wage,” Kübar told Baltic Reports.
Fritze said he is hurt that his salary is being criticized considering the amount of work and responsibility his job entails. Fritze said he left a stable job for the German Foreign Service in Uruguay and took this job at the salary offered.
“I got this offer from the board of the foundation and accepted it,” Fritze told Baltic Reports. “Of course I live a good life on this salary but I do understand that in Estonia it is a very high wage.”
Minister of Culture Laine Jänes said she was surprised by Fritze’s salary at a press conference on Thursday, saying she was not previously aware of it.
“I was surprised myself when I heard about this number today. As it’s the contract between the city and contractor, it is confidential and therefore it had not been previously distributed,” Jänes said.
Fritze was hired for the CEO position in the beginning of 2008 after he won a public competition for this job.
Much bang for the taxpayer’s buck?
Kübar was also displeased that the costs for personnel is almost equal to program expenses.
The foundation is spending 7.8 million krooni (€500,000) on personnel and 9.7 million krooni (€620,000) on program costs.
“If such a huge project has been started, then most of the money should be spent on the project,” told Kübar.
In response to the inquiry, Savisaar said that 2008-2010 the reason personnel costs are higher is that in 2008 the team was assembled and the program was formulated and the closer 2011 comes, more will be spent on the program.
Kübar’s criticism did not end there. He said programs such as the Birgitta Festival, Jazzkaar and Plektrum do not add much more value to the Capital of Culture line-up as those events already exist and are funded by the Tallinn municipal government anyway. The only original program carried out by Tallinn 2011 last year was Tallinn’s Maritime Days, which cost 2.4 million krooni (€153,000).