Voters slash Lucerne city councillors’ pay

Voters slash Lucerne city councillors' pay
Lucerne Mayor Stefan Roth (third from left) with fellow councillors and city clerk. Photo: City of Lucerne
Executive city councillors in Lucerne have to make do with less after citizens approved an initiative to cap their annual pay at 200,000 francs ($203,000) in a vote that wrapped up on Sunday.

The still hefty wage compares with an average salary of 247,000 francs currently earned by the five city representatives.

Mayor Stefan Roth’s pay — currently around 264,000 francs — will be cut back to 220,000 francs under the initiative spearheaded by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) and supported by 62.5 percent of voters, the Neue Luzerner Zeitung reported on Monday.

The pay cap still allows for an annual cost-of-living adjustment.

A counter-proposal that would have allowed higher pay was narrowly defeated.

Wages for councillors in Lucerne, a city of just 84,000 people, are at the upper end of what politicians in other Swiss cities are paid.

Indeed, it is roughly on par with what city councillors receive in Zurich, the country's largest metropolis, where voters 15 years ago backed a similar initiative to rein in cadillac salaries, the Neue Luzerner Zeitung said.

The Lucerne city council issued a statement expressing disappointment in the outcome of the initiative, dubbed “200,000 francs is enough”.

Council noted that its members had agreed to voluntarily take a 20,000 franc annual pay cut as a temporary economy measure this year.

It said that the large numbers of citizens in support of the measure were probably influenced by the financial situation of the city and by comparisons with their own wages, “especially in today’s economic situation”.

The council has recently announced “austerity measures” because of financial difficulties, including cutbacks in services, such as street cleaning.

It is not clear when the new pay order will go into effect but the SVP is pushing for implementation later this year.

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