Borjomi’s municipal council (sakrebulo) have voted to impeach council head Zaza Chachanidze, in a dispute over staff pay at the mayor’s office. The dispute between the council and the mayor’s office emerged after the council repeatedly refused to approve a staff budget for the latter that included pay rises for the top positions.
In a closed session on Tuesday, 19 councillors voted in favour of impeaching Chachanidze, a member of the Alliance of Patriots party, with two voting against. Seven councillors did not attend the session. All 13 councillors from Georgian Dream attended, along with eight from the Alliance of Patriots. The United National Movement’s two councillors, one each from the Labour Party and European Georgia, as well as three councillors from the Alliance of Patriots, including Chachanidze, did not attend.
According to Samtskhe-Javakheti-based news site Samkhretis Karibche, the council’s deputy head, Giorgi Gogichaishvili, also from the Alliance of Patriots, conducted today’s session. The party have said they will nominate him to take over as the new head.
Samkhretis Karibche writes that councillors from Georgian Dream have not yet said if they will support Gogichaishvili’s candidacy or whether they will nominate their own candidate.
The two councillors from the Alliance of Patriots who voted against Chachanidze’s impeachment were Piran Gogichaishvili and Violeta Balakhashvili. Balakhashvili told Samkhretis Karibche that she thinks Chachanidze was a good head and properly fulfilled his duties.
‘The only issue that created a crisis was the [mayor’s office] salaries, and I don’t think this should have been a reason to impeach him’, she said, adding that she plans to support Gogichaishvili’s candidacy.
A date for the next council session, to select a new head, has not yet been set. The council will not discuss the Mayor’s Office staff budget until this happens.
With Georgian Dream falling short of a majority, with 13 out of 28 seats, Borjomi’s council is the only one in Georgia not controlled by the ruling party.
Georgian Dream had been boycotting council sessions for several months since failing to secure a majority at the elections, until the conflict with Mayor’s Office escalated.
The Mayor of Borjomi and almost the entire staff of his office haven’t been paid for the past three months, because the council has refused to approve a new staff budget. The new budget included major pay rises for the Mayor and several of his senior staff.
Most of the staff of the Mayor’s Office, including the mayor himself, went on a strike in the beginning of March, but resumed work in a few days, after receiving promises that the council would again consider the issue of their salaries on the next plenary session on 28 March.
[Read More on OC Media: Borjomi’s mayor and staff go on strike]