Senior employees agree to eight percent pay cut

About 30 senior municipal employees in Hod Hasharon have agreed to take pay cuts of eight percent and to forgo additional benefits in an austerity measure expected to save the city about NIS 1 million this year, reports The senior employees, who include Mayor Hai Adiv and his two paid deputies, agreed to give up benefits that bring the effective value of the cuts to 12 percent. According to the report, the cuts are part of an efficiency program being introduced to trim the city's huge deficit in line with the orders of the Interior Ministry. Hod Hasharon has an accumulated deficit of NIS 47 million, and the ministry has ordered it to fix its accounts within six months or face the appointment of a ministry accountant over its financial affairs. The report said the 30 senior employees, among them the mayor and his deputies as well as the heads and senior officials of municipal departments, were called in to a meeting last week to discuss the proposed pay cuts, and almost all ended up signing their agreement to the measures. A municipal spokesman said the cuts would save about NIS 1 million this year. The report also said the municipal employees' committee and management had agreed to reduce the salaries of all municipal employees by an unstated amount, and that an agreement on this would soon be signed. "We all, the elected members and the public servants, are obliged to continue to supply the best service possible to residents in all fields of life, while at the same time keeping a balanced budget," Adiv said. Meanwhile, the Hebrew weekly Yediot Hasharon reports that Hod Hasharon is cutting its budget for this year's Independence Day festivities to just NIS 400,000, compared with more than NIS 1 million in 2008. The report said that while last year's celebrations featured star entertainers and huge events, including the reunion concert of the band Kaveret, this year there would be no "grandiose" shows and performances would be by local entertainers on small stages. The report said it seemed the city was even planning to cancel the traditional free transport to and from the events for residents.