TALLINN - Foundation Tallinn 2011 CEO Mikko Fritze worries that his salary is making negative headlines in Estonia. He agrees that the current economic situation is a really difficult one and says he completely understands those people who are negative concerning his high salary.
Foundation Tallinn 2011 is the organization that is coordinating the city’s upcoming European Capital of Culture events. The director’s salary has become a controversial topic.
“I get almost as much salary as the president of Estonia does. I understand that this comparison is really fair. And it is very hard to give any explanation to the people.”
Fritze added he considers that it wasn’t very reasonable to disclose the size of his salary to the public. His salary comes to 82,000 kroons (5,250 euros) a month, which is considered even higher than the salary of Estonia’s president.
After an enquiry, Pro Patria and Res Publica Union Party regional development manager Madis Kubar expressed his indignation about the salary. He considers that “it is unacceptable that the city can pay someone a higher salary than the president’s wage.”
Fritze however said he is “hurt” that his salary is being criticized, considering the amount of work and responsibility his job entails. He said he left a stable job with the German Foreign Service in Uruguay and took this job at the salary offered. Fritze doesn’t deny that his salary is big enough for providing a good, even a luxurious, living.
Minister of Culture Laine Janes said she was surprised by Fritze’s income and that she was not previously aware of the amount.
The Capital of Culture Foundation was established in April 2007 by the city of Tallinn. Fritze was chosen as the director, assuming the position at the beginning of 2008.
According to Kubar, the personnel costs are almost equal to the program expenses.
The foundation is spending 7.8 million kroons on personnel and 9.7 million kroons on program costs. “Having started this kind of project should mean spending most of the money on the project,” Kubar noted.
Tallinn Mayor Edgar Savisaar said that, regarding the 2008-2010 period, the reason personnel costs are higher now is that in 2008, the team was assembled and the program was formulated, and the closer 2011 comes, the more will be spent on the program.
Kubar claims that festival projects like the Birgitta Festival, Jazzkaar and Plektrum do not add much more cost to the Capital of Culture line-up. The only original program carried out by Tallinn 2011 last year was Tallinn’s Maritime Days, which cost 2.4 million kroons.