Cyprus Mail
Opinion

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: The trials and tribulations of being a Peyia resident

Now that Co-operative banks have been nationalised, more trouble looms for Peyia. The municipality’s practice of keeping the Town Hall running on the one million plus euro overdraft will be sharply curtailed. There are delays also in the central government subsidy (reduced this year to €930,000), with only small doses having been paid so far, all of which automatically goes to Peyia’s loan repayments. 

There is over €200,000 in unpaid taxes outstanding from beach licences alone (beds, water-sports, etc.).
In addition, the company that won the tender in January 2013 for the licence for the smaller Coral Beach kiosk has just asked for a 25 per cent discount. Earlier this year, the Council granted the other kiosk holder a generous discount for fees outstanding in 2011 and 2012.

Peyia is still confronting problems with unpaid water bills. Letters have again been sent to those consumers who have not paid their bills and this coming week the Municipality will start cutting off supply if payments are not made.

The Council voted unanimously to increase water rates by 50 per cent. For residential properties, the standing cost per three months will increase from €15 to €20, along with a doubling of the tariff for 1-30 cubic metres to .40¢ (from .20¢) & smaller increases for the other bands. Even with these rises, Peyia water is still one of the cheapest on the island.

Ironically, Peyia Municipality has its own unpaid bill pending of over €500,000. Will the municipality have its water supply cut too?

Immovable Property Tax (IPT)
Confusion continues over the new IPT legislation, which is probably about to be amended yet again with discussions in Parliament still on-going this week. There are proposals from the Green Party MP to exempt agricultural land cultivated by farmers and a primary residence up to a reasonable value. It has been revealed that the Land Registry lacks proper owner details on over 200,000 properties, which makes it almost impossible to collect property taxes.

For those with title deeds, the IPT situation, at time of writing, is as follows:
– Discount of 10 per cent if paid before 15 October
– After 15 November penalties will be imposed
– The €75 minimum payment for every property owner has been scrapped. As the legislation is now, up to a 1980 value of €5,000, no tax is due. Those readers who have already paid their €75 should consider another visit to Inland Revenue to check if they are eligible for a refund.
– Tax is paid at the Inland Revenue Office in Paphos. Bring your title deeds and documents.
In addition to the IPT above, there is the Local Property Tax which is now due. No notices will be sent out, but Peyia might enclose a notice in the annual rubbish tax bill which will be sent out soon. Local IPT should be paid in Peyia by the end of the year.

Garden Waste:
The coalition has received complaints about the introduction of fees at the garden waste site and the limited hours of operation. The new system has predictably resulted in illegal dumping. The Municipality says they have increased patrols beyond normal office hours in an attempt to control illegal dumping. They have also assured us that if anyone has specific details of illegal dumping (names of companies, licence plate numbers, times, dates), they will enforce penalties. The number to contact is 26-621113.

The chipping and composting of garden waste will be available once the proposed “Green Point” starts in May 2014. This collection point for temporary storage of all recyclables is being organised by the Ministry of Interior and will be near the old quarry on the Akoursos road. Tenders for the management of the site are being prepared and consultants have been working with the Municipality staff.

Sewage
The Director of SAPA (Paphos Sewage Board), visited the Council at the end of July for further discussions. Despite assurances given, no one has much confidence in SAPA, due to scandals and mismanagement. Several new members of Peyia Council feel that it would be better if Peyia proceeded independently, despite the decision of the Ministry of Interior that we connect with the existing Paphos system. Councillor, Linda Leblanc has been in contact for many years with an industry specialist who assures her that it is unviable financially for Peyia to go it alone. So far, there have been three studies completed on Peyia’s sewage project, including one in 2011 about connecting Tala and Peyia to Paphos. Reports are that the Tala Mukhtar has recently rejected co-operation with SAPA, even though Tala, as a village, is eligible for 80 per cent funding from the central government. Peyia gets zero funding as we are a town, so a new system will be funded entirely through taxation of residents. This tax has been proposed to start by the end of this year.

The Mayor pushed forward his proposal for yet another new study (the fourth one so far) by a Greek company at a cost €10,000 + VAT, which will examine the viability of Peyia going it alone. If it is decided to look at combining with Tala, the price goes up to €20,000. This study was approved by councillors with only one dissenting voice.

Local authorities changes
We can expect further inevitable changes to the Cyprus public service as a result of troika demands for sustainable government, including local authorities. The Cyprus Union of Municipalities has sent preliminary proposals to town and village councils for discussions which will start later this month. There is a timetable on this first phase: discussions in September, decisions in October. The main areas of reform cover financial and human resource management. Phase one will concentrate on inter-local authority co-operation on integrated waste management, water and sewage boards.

At this stage, towns will share services with adjoining villages. For example, instead of each town having its own sanitation teams, costs could be substantially reduced by amalgamation and more privatisation. Some years ago, Peyia partially privatised its rubbish collection for the tourist area, which resulted in a savings of about 50 per cent and improvement in services.

Issues briefly covered in the preliminary document distributed recently concern accountability, control and audit arrangements, governance, transparency and “political neutrality for hiring/promoting”, performance appraisals of personnel.

Discrimination in death:
Peyia Municipality charges foreign residents €854 per single plot instead of €427 at the Greek Orthodox cemetery. Foreigners are not permitted to reserve future plots but, following a formal proposal by Councillor Linda Leblanc, it was decided by the Council that if a foreigner wishes to reserve a future space in the same plot as a deceased family member, a deeper grave may be dug at the time of burial of the first deceased. The Council decided the cost for this will be €1,200 (for two bodies in one grave). Not only do the Orthodox pay half as much for a plot, but it can be re-used after seven years, as is the tradition of gathering the bones to make way for the next body in the same plot.

Cyprus is the only EU member state without a crematorium

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