One million euros for extra Arnhem rapporteur: ‘Outrageous and irresponsible’

Arnhem town hall. Photo: Omroep Gelderland

ARNHEM – Until 2010, Arnhem did it with five councilors. Then it became six and now it should be seven, it sounds from the negotiating parties. In addition to an additional salary, this also costs the necessary support, such as secretarial services and spokespersons. A total of 250,000 a year has been reserved for this: This corresponds to 1 million euros for the entire term of office, excluding any severance pay. This is met with strong opposition from the other groups.

Leo de Groot (Party for the Animals) is currently trying to form a coalition with his party, GroenLinks, D66, Arnhem Central, PvdA and Volt. Those negotiations would go well and the agreement and the councilors’ club were to be presented on 1 June. With six parties, of which GroenLinks is the largest, wanting to supply two councilors, seven seems a logical addition. The parties themselves call the election of an additional councilor ‘the most effective and appropriate in relation to the challenges we face’.

‘can be done with six’

While there has never been a signal in recent years that a council of six councilors was insufficient for Arnhem, by VVD’s party leader Steffenie Pape. Her party was part of that coalition, and according to her, both VVD councilors state that it could be done with the six of them. Pape also believes that the million euros it would cost “a considerable amount”. “And I’m excited about what the dividend will be. I think we have bigger needs.”

Unnecessary, says Nathalie Nede (ChristenUnie). She is curious at the expense of this release and is supported by Yildirim Usta (DENK). “At a time when we all have to make choices, we do not think it is responsible,” he says.

‘Cartel shrug’

FvD leader Gino Luurssen calls it ‘a disgrace’. Trying to solve inefficiencies by appointing more councilors is, according to him, a sign of weakness. “Bad plan. A pat on the back for the cartel and a false promise to Arnhemmeren with no guarantee that anything will come out of that investment.” If you still want to expand the folk high school, then at least make sure that the taxpayer does not fall victim, Luurssen suggests.

And it would have been possible if the same choice had been made as in 2010, when the municipal council decided to pay the councilors for 0.8 man-years, after the formation went from five to six, explains Gerrie Elfrink (SP). He was one of these councilors at the time, but the then coalition partners VVD, D66 and GroenLinks also joined. In Elfrink’s experience, six councilors were already a lot. “In fact, there is only work for five. There was always a councilor with not too much in his portfolio.”

According to Elfrink, the fact that seven councilors have to be appointed for political reasons does not mean that they all have to have a full-time salary of more than 100,000 euros a year. “Then you really have your back to society. You can not explain that to the people of Arnhem, many of whom now have to turn a penny each. The food bank is sounding the alarm. So many Arnhem people are up to their lips.” This left-wing college overtakes the VVD to the right, Elfrink notes.

Talk about it

And although De Groot admits that the discussion about a part-time salary for the councilors has been conducted, the negotiating parties have not seen it as a good option. How does he view a monthly salary of almost 8,000 euros gross that a councilor with 0.8 man-years still has left? “It’s just enough to buy social housing,” jokes De Groot. To acknowledge in a more serious tone that he himself could manage with less.

The full-time salaries will now provide 9,658.22 euros gross per month for the councilors in Arnhem, plus holiday pay and year-end bonus. But not only do you work hard for this, you are also available 24 hours a day to be called up and you are responsible, De Groot defends that amount. “Maybe you should move and leave a better paying job.” Although De Groot would also have thought that 8,000 euros for 0.8 man-years would be fine, but only if all councilors would do so.

Niels Scholten (Volt) calls the seventh councilor a ‘responsible expense’ just like Mattijs Loor (D66) and Giovanni Visser (PvdA). Lea Manders (Arnhem Central) states that the city continues to grow and that the range of tasks has increased, and GroenLinks does not answer questions about the elections. Where Cathelijne Bouwkamp’s party nevertheless went along with a pay cut in 2010 to pay for the extra councilor.

The CDA is the only faction that still shows understanding for the choices of the negotiating parties, provided that the Commission “will agree on content, communication and coordination”. “It is certainly not going well enough yet, and any ambition is therefore nice on those fronts,” says Klaartje Koorn.

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