Comptroller: Rampant nepotism in Beit Shemesh municipality

Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul Photo; Kobi Gidon GPO

Over half of the municipality's employees have at least one other relative working there.

The state comptroller's report on personnel management by the Beit Shemesh municipality includes a long list of violations of proper administration, an increase in the number of jobs in breach of the rules, intervention by elected officials in hiring, breaches of budgetary limits, and years of failure to address comments by the state comptroller.

The state comptroller found that 568 of the municipality's 1,078 employees in September 2016, 53% of the total, had at least one family member working there. Despite the prevalence of employment of relatives, the municipality did not map the family relations between its employees, and did not examine the character of the relationship between them. It was satisfied with the statements given by its employees when they were hired.

Already in 2011, the State Comptroller's Office and the Ministry of Justice ruled that Beit Shemesh Deputy Mayor Meir Balaish was not allowed to deal with personnel matters at the municipality because of his family relation to personnel and human resources department manager Yossi Cohen. In its first meeting of the full city council in April 2014, following the city council elections, the municipality appointed Balaish as acting and deputy mayor. Two months later, he was appointed a member of the personnel committee, and continued his involvement in these matters and his participation in committees for assessment of candidates for jobs at the municipality.

Balaish also participated in the appointments committee when he was already acquainted with some of the candidates, who were later accepted at his recommendation. Furthermore, the personnel department manager, his relative, was also a member of the committee, despite the issuing of a report in 2011 forbidding this practice.

Millions of shekels in budget irregularities

The state comptroller also reported that the municipality had failed to comply with two streamlining plans it had signed in order to deal with large deficits accumulated in 2013-2015. Instead, the municipality created more positions and hired more employees without permission from the Ministry of the Interior, and dealt with the deficit by taking a loan, thereby increasing its debt.

The Ministry of the Interior approved the municipal budget ex post facto, thereby in effect abdicating its responsibility for overseeing management of the budget of the municipality, which is in dire financial straits, and is undergoing a streamlining plan.

Published by Globes [online], Israel Business News - - on November 21, 2017

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2017

Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul Photo; Kobi Gidon GPO
Beit Shemesh Mayor Moshe Abutbul Photo; Kobi Gidon GPO
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