Thessaloniki mayor says he only needs half the staff

Thessaloniki Mayor Yiannis Boutaris has risked provoking the wrath of many of his municipality?s employees by suggesting that he could do without half of them.

Boutaris, elected by a narrow margin in last November?s local elections when he stood as an independent, suggested that the cash-strapped Municipality of Thessaloniki was spending too much on the wages of some 4,500 staff.

?In my opinion, the municipality can operate with half the amount of employees we currently have,? he said. ?What is absolutely clear is that public hirings have been used as a way of exercising social policy.?

Boutaris said that he would first try to see if he can get better value for money from the current staff. He also announced that people working for City Hall would no longer get a 75 percent discount on their municipal tax.

Thessaloniki is currently facing trash collection problems as it is finding it difficult to pay gas and repair bills for the garbage trucks.

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