A relevant bill that will be debated by the council later this week would more than double the wages of Marutian and his deputies. It calls for much smaller pay rises for nearly 2,000 other persons working in the mayor’s office and Yerevan’s ten district administrations.
Armen Galjian, one of the two council members who drafted the bill, defended the disparity, saying that the mayor’s and the vice-mayor’s current wages are “considerably lower than the responsibility which they bear” while performing their duties.
Galjian also said that the across-the-board pay rises are long overdue because municipal wages have remained unchanged since 2011. He insisted that they do not require extra funding from the municipal budget because their beneficiaries would simply have regular bonuses paid to them added to their monthly salaries on a permanent basis.
Marutian backed the proposed salary increases, saying that the municipal administration would be in a better position to attract skilled specialists. But he stressed that his own salary must not be raised.
“A person who took up a public position as a result of the  revolution must not seek to have their salary raised,” he wrote on Facebook. “I am therefore categorically against having my salary increase and will therefore not take part in the [council] vote.”
“But if the Council of Elders votes for the measure I will refuse that extra sum and will continue to receive the salary that I have received for the last two and a half years: namely 415,000 drams ($860). The extra sum will be channeled not benevolence,” added the well-to-do former TV comedian, who reportedly owns expensive real estate in Europe.
Marutian himself tried to push through a similar bill in May 2019. He had to withdraw it amid strong objections voiced by council members representing not only the Armenian opposition but also the ruling My Step bloc, which has a comfortable majority in the municipal legislature.
Ernest Avanesov, a councilor who left My Step last December, questioned on Tuesday the wisdom of reviving the idea. He said there has been no “serious analysis” of its practical impact on good governance in the Armenian capital.