The Tel Aviv city council has approved a budget of NIS 28.9 million for the city's religious council this year, more than one-third of which will go toward funding the retirement of its employees, reports www.mynet.co.il. Tel Aviv Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau will receive a salary of NIS 564,000 per year, or NIS 47,000 per month.
According to the report, the religious council suffered from financial difficulties in the past which necessitated the intervention of the Ministry for Religious Services, but it now appears that there is "no need for any recovery plan." The report said the most prominent aspect of the budget is the NIS 10.4 million allocated for retirement and pensions of employees. A spokesman for the religious council said the government should have made these payments, but it had not and the council was being forced to do so. He said the council was continuing its fight to make the government pay retiring employees.
The report said that out of the NIS 28.9 million budget for the religious council in 2009, 13.6 percent (NIS 3.9 million) would come from the city, while the remainder would come from the government and from income for services rendered, such as marriage fees (NIS 1.95 million), kashrut certificates (NIS 1.25 million), mikveh (ritual bath) fees (NIS 1.3 million) and others. It said the religious council was responsible for managing and maintaining 21 ritual baths, spending NIS 6.2 million on them, of which two-thirds (NIS 4.1 million) was for salaries.
The report said NIS 970,000 had been allocated to the chief rabbi's office, of which NIS 919,000 was for the salaries of the chief rabbi and his staff. It said this was almost NIS 1 million less than in 2008. But the budget also shows an increase in the salaries of some 15 neighborhood rabbis, who received a total of NIS 945,000 in 2008 and this year will receive a total of NIS 978,000. "In contrast to other religious councils, we do not have a swollen management level," the religious council spokesman said. "We have 100 workers in the council, most of whom provide direct services."