It has not been a good week for Agustín Navarro, the Mayor of Benidorm.
First it was confirmed that he is to face charges in relation to alleged irregularities in contracting and paying council workers, and then he was subjected to hostile criticism after the IBI property tax in the municipality was raised by 10%. He then had to defend the decision to pay his defence lawyer ten thousand euros out of Town Hall funds, and then, as if all that weren’t enough, he was been dealt another blow by the audit committee, which accused him of owing money to the municipality.
Despite his accumulated misfortunes, though, Sr Navarro has leapt into action to defend himself against the audit committee’s findings. On Tuesday he presented a mountain of documentation concerning his salary and other dates and details in an attempt to pour oil on troubled waters and salvage his rapidly deteriorating reputation.
Contrary to the findings of the audit committee, Sr Navarro claims that he can demonstrate that in fact he is owed 1,500 by the municipality.
On the one hand, he recognizes that he was indeed paid 13,000 euros too much in the past, but explains that this is because the reduction in his salary, which was approved in council in April 2012, was not implemented properly. On the other hand, though, if he were paid the three-year increments to which he says he is entitled then these would amount to 14,500 euros over the last four years, leaving him as a creditor rather than a debtor to the Town Hall.
According to his version of events he has informed the Human Resources department five times that his salary is to be subjected to the same 15% reduction as those of other councillors, but his colleagues in that department have not been able to apply the reduction because they found the council resolution “incongruous”: if applied completely it would apparently reduce the Mayor’s salary to a lower level than those of the leader of the opposition or other councillors.
Eventually an agreement was reached in December last year, and Sr Navarro now receives a salary after tax of 2,900 euros including 300 related to three-year increments. His predecessor in the post, Manuel Pérez Fenoll, was paid 4,722 euros per month.
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