Icelandic Councilors’ Pay Varies Massively

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Icelandic Councilors’ Pay Varies Massively

Reykjavík City Hall

Photo: Páll Kjartansson.

Monthly wages paid to local councilors in Iceland range from zero up to nearly half a million krónur (USD 4,440/EUR 3,210).

One municipality does not pay councilors anything, despite the law stating that councils must decide on a level of pay for elected representatives.

The Icelandic Association of Local Authorities surveys the wages and working conditions of councilors every second year. The latest survey revealed that one council does not pay its members anything. The report on the survey says that the council in question is actually breaking the law by not paying its members, as the law states that each individual council must decide on an appropriate level of recompense to councilors for their work.

The municipality in question is called Svalbarðshreppur. Elfa Benediktsdóttir, one of the councilors there, says that the municipal accounts were in a mess when the current council too over.

“We decided when we took over four years ago, and when we started to tidy up the municipality’s finances, to not take any pay for council meetings,” Elfa told RÚV.

Councilors in Iceland’s smallest municipalities, with fewer than 200 residents, are all paid less than ISK 50,000 (USD 444/EUR 321) a month for their work, and most less than ISK 25,000. The wage paid to councilors generally increases with the size of their municipality.

One municipality with fewer than 2,000 residents pays its councilors more than ISK 100,000 each per month, while 14 out of 21 municipalities with more than 2,000 residents do likewise.

Reykjavík is the only municipality which pays its councilors more than an average of ISK 200,000, and up to nearly ISK 500,000, in individual cases.

It is worth pointing out that committee membership, cabinet membership and chairing the city council, among other extra tasks, can all lead to councilors in Reykjavík, and elsewhere, being paid extra.

Icelanders go to the polls in local elections on 31st May this year.

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