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Thorny issues come to the fore in local authority reform debate

Larnaca mayor and chairman of the union of municipalities Andreas Vyras

The union of municipalities has asked for more clarity over the revenues that will be transferred to local authorities after the reform, as some villages still opposed mergers, a key component of the proposed scheme.

The chairman of the union of municipalities, Larnaca Mayor Andreas Vyras said it had transpired through the discussion that they will not be receiving the full €120m the state currently collects from road tax, as had been the initial position.

Vyras said it appeared the amount would be lower, so they wanted clarity to avoid any unpleasant surprises later.

Speaking after discussion of the proposed reforms in parliament, Vyras said they wanted to finance ministry to inform them of the government’s intention on the matter.

As regards municipal policing, Vyras said local authorities did not have the necessary personnel and because of the numerous parameters, changes were needed in the law.

The chairman of the union of communities said disagreements still existed on key matters.

One of them were the proposed mergers, which some communities opposed. Andreas Kitromilides said the water supply was another sticking point.

Under the proposed changes, water management would be transferred to district organisations.

Kitromilides suggested this would raise the cost for inhabitants, especially those living in mountain areas.

The reform entails large-scale merger or clustering of communities and reducing municipalities from 30 to 17.

It also provides for a single referendum to decide whether to go ahead though main opposition Akel supports having individual votes in communities.

The government initially disagreed with the notion of referendums, but eventually agreed that if that would be the case, then there should be only one across the Republic and not many community-based polls.

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