The Herzliya religious council has embarked on an NIS 3.6 million "recovery plan" that will set its budget for the coming years and will see three out of its 25 employees taking early retirement, reports www.local.co.il. The religious council, the city council and the Ministry of Religious Services all agreed to contribute NIS 1.2 million each to the recovery plan, which follows several difficult years for religious councils around the country. According to the report, many religious councils fell into financial difficulties after the post of Minister of Religious Affairs was scrapped in January 2004 and the ministry cut funding to the religious councils. Many religious councils found themselves unable to pay salaries to their employees or to pay compensation to those retiring, and about two years ago, the Herzliya religious council was unable to pay the salaries of its employees for five months. More recently, and with the appointment of Yitzhak Cohen (Shas) as Minister of Religious Services in January 2008, the ministry has been working on recovery plans for the religious councils. The report said the money that would be transferred to the Herzliya religious council was owed to it to cover past expenditures, and would come in addition to its regular budget of NIS 3.5 million per year. A Herzliya religious council spokesman said the agreement would bring to a close the "long and laborious process" of drawing up a recovery plan, and would enable the religious council's budget to be organized for the next few years, and for three employees to retire with the correct compensation. The spokesman said Herzliya's religious council was one of the first to embark on such a recovery plan, and this was because of the close cooperation it enjoys with the city council.