The initial cost to operate the 30 community clusters resulting from local government reform will reach €3 million, which the government will cover, the president of the Union of Cyprus Communities Andreas Kitromilides said on Monday.

He was speaking after a meeting of the union’s delegation with President Nikos Christodoulides and Interior Minister Constantinos Ioannou at the presidential palace.

Kitromilides explained that the meeting was held ahead of the upcoming local government elections and the implementation of local government reform, which will take effect on July 1.

The discussions also covered various issues concerning the communities, such as the necessity to make amendments to district council laws, aimed at enabling communities to offer services comparable to those provided by municipalities.

“The meeting yielded good results. We found solutions with both the President and the interior minister,” Kitromilides. “We expressed our gratitude for the recent announcements regarding allowances for residents of mountain communities and the new housing policy.

“Our goal is to keep these communities alive and attract new residents.”

When asked about the main challenges faced by communities regarding the reform, he said some amendments are still pending in the House, which are expected to be addressed in upcoming sessions after the elections. These amendments concern the operation of clusters under the new legislation, allowing communities to offer services previously unavailable to residents, and the hiring of qualified staff necessary for the clusters to function correctly.

Regarding solutions found, Kitromilides said he expects several bills to be passed in the House, namely those concerning staff-related matters, cluster operations, cluster headquarters, community finances, and the grants required for community councils and clusters to operate.

“There was significant concern about the cost burden on residents. We found solutions with the interior ministry, with the government taking on the cost for the clusters. We are starting with an initial cost of around €3 million for all 30 service clusters, which the government will cover,” he said.

Kitromilides finally explained that after the legislative changes, there would be an adjustment period during which clusters will establish their headquarters, appoint presidents, and announce job positions. Staff hiring will begin gradually from early 2025.