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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
In a controversial move, Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski is spending NIS 30,000 in city funds on personal gift baskets for this week's Purim holiday, city documents show.
Lupolianski spokesman Gidi Schmerling said Sunday that the money was allocated for gifts to VIP's.
The mayor's 200 gift packages, which will be sent to senior municipal officials and city council members, cost NIS 150 each, according to the Jerusalem weekly Yerushalayim which first reported the story.
The city money that Jerusalem's first haredi mayor is using on his personal Purim baskets this year is ten times more than the budget for last year's gifts, the paper said.
City documents clearly indicate that the budget of the mayor's holiday gift packages is NIS 30,000, with additional funding allocated for gifts.
Lupolianski's spokesman on Sunday denied the report, and said that the money was budgeted for wine bottles to be given out as gifts.
"The budget that was approved in the city committee for NIS 30,000 was allotted for presents (a single bottle of wine) which will be distributed over the course of the year when the mayor meets with ambassadors, ministers and others," the city spokesman said in a statement.
Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat said Sunday that Lupolianski's steep holiday gift allocations was "unfitting" for Israel's poorest city.
"In a city like Jerusalem, one should maintain modest proportions when it comes to the public coffers," he said.
Barkat, a self-made millionaire, added that if the mayor wanted to splurge on holiday baskets, he should have done so out of his own pocket.
The Jerusalem Mayor makes about NIS 40,000 a month.