"Our Village has Begun to Live for Real Only Now - as a Part of City Community..."
How the villages that have amalgamated into a single community are doing
On 28 February, the Committee on State-Building, Regional Policy and Local Self-Government of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine will consider the Draft Law (No. 6466) "On Voluntary Amalgamation of Territorial Communities" regarding the voluntary accession of territorial communities in villages and towns to the cities of Oblast subordinance. That legislative initiative is aimed at the deblocking of the communities amalgamation process around the centres of economic activity, which centres are the cities of Oblast subordinance.
There is a myth that the amalgamation of villages with a city may result in the disappearance of those villages. To either confirm or deny it, the "Decentralisation" publication had a talk with representatives of Tiachivska City Amalgamated Community in Zakarpattia Oblast consisting of the city of Tiachiv and several neighbouring villages: Tiachivka, Lahzy and Okruhla, Ruske Pole.
Ivan Kovach, the Chairman of Tiachivska City ATC:
"For the villages, such accession is positive in all senses because they receive immense financial resources. In their turn, the cities receive new territories for their development. What does the city expansion mean? First of all, it means the construction of infrastructure: laying of water supply and sanitation systems, gas supply systems, etc. to the neighbouring villages. In addition, due to the accession to cities, there arise additional opportunities in the villages, including financial ones.
The villages constituting such a community are more tightly related to the administrative centre, consequently, it is simpler for their residents to get to the city in order to sell milk, butter, and agricultural products grown in their gardens. Earlier, the road to the village of Lahzy was worn down to the extent that carriers refused to be engaged in the passenger transportation to the settlements in that direction. After the amalgamation, we carried out the roadway replacement and now shuttle buses go to Lahzy on regular basis. I think that the residents of Lahzy are happy of their accession to Tiachivska community.
Our villages have retained all their rights: they dispose of their own land, property, etc. Each of the settlements in the community received UAH 7 to 8 million for the renewal of infrastructure. In addition, the community maintains all village schools and kindergartens.
In the village of Ruske Pole, there is a kindergarten where we carried out total building renovation and replaced all furniture. Ask the countrymen whether anybody is against such "merger"?.. Each village has its members on the city council who participate in the preparation and implementation of projects pertaining to development of settlements they act for.
Vasyl Miriavets, the Headman of the village of Ruske Pole:
- After we had amalgamated, the land tax rates did not change and we continue to get the highland allowances as before. Ruske Pole did not disappear from the map as some people predicted. We did not lose anything, just gained.
In 2006, approximately 15 types of taxes were paid to the budget of the village and we had about UAH 300 thousand of own revenues whereas the minimum demand totalled UAH 2.7 million. And this figure refers to the protected budget items only: wages, utility expenses, meals for children..., UAH 2.4 million we spent for the maintenance of two kindergartens, whereas we had to close the third one. Consequently, we could only dream of any capital repairs.
In 2016, only four taxes remained gaining us UAH 185 thousand of own revenues. However, the same year, UAH 5 million was allocated for the renewal of infrastructure in Ruska Poliana immediately after the amalgamation and in this year we have to receive UAH 7.8 million. We applied that money for the roadway replacement where its condition was devastating. We carried out total building renovation of one kindergarten, in the other one we replaced the heating system and all windows and doors.
Every year, we spend UAH 200 thousand for the current repair of schools only. In the next year, our village has to receive from Tiachivska ATC approximately UAH 8 million for the infrastructure only, exclusive of the protected budget items.
It's shivering to remember the time when in order to repair the roof of the village council building I requested UAH 53 thousand from the Rayon State Administration and they replied: "There is no money!" However, at the end of the year, they finally allocated UAH 20 thousand that I failed to spend. Because you cannot repair half of the roof only! The village council never acted as a budget holder. Moreover, we could even have monetary funds on our accounts but may not use them without an approval from Kyiv.
Vasyl Kliuchkei, the Headman of the village of Lahzy:
I acted as the chairman of the village council over the period of 15 years and could say for sure that Lahzy never had such impulse for development as we received after the amalgamation into a community with the city.
We were always short of money. The road was so bad that it was impossible to get to Tiachiv - you could walk faster than drive.
Now, the lighting, playgrounds, etc. have appeared in Lahzy and Okruhle - the two villages constituting Lahzivska village council. Every year, the community takes about 300 lorries of gravel mix to our 26 roads. Last year, we repaired five bridges.
Each of our villages has public advisory bodies - village committees. They submit their proposals to Tiachivskyi Executive Committee to be later approved by the session meeting of Tiachivska City Council. Tiachivskyi Executive Committee employs three persons from Lahzy and Okruhle, whereas four their representatives are members of the Tiachivska City Council.
When we amalgamated, people were afraid that they will be deprived of non-privatised land plots. However, nothing like that happened at all.
Ivan Molnar, the Headman of the village of Tiachivka:
Our small village that always was a suburb of Tiachiv has begun to live for real only now. There is no large business operating in our village, consequently, there is no money.
Over two years, the Tiachivska City Council has invested about UAH 10 million in the infrastructure or our village. For that money, they have repaired the club, school, medical and obstetrical station, stadium, and built a playground.
Earlier, we had no own budget because the village was included in the territory of Tiachiv as far back as in the Soviet era. Now there is a headman in Tiachivka who has to protect interests of its residents. I submit an action plan, budgets and there was never a person who said me nay.
Owing to those efforts, now it is a pleasure to visit the village that was the devastation before.
Author: Dmytro Syniak
Source: "Decentralisation" Initiative