Ayia Napa's request for an increase in councilors in the new Municipality did not pass

Something like this would likely lead to a reduction in the municipal councilors of Liopetriou and Achnas - Elections based on the number of voters and not on financial criteria says the Parliament

photo 14 exclusive, Municipality of Ayia Napa, Local Government Reform, Local Government

The Interior Committee of the Parliament gave a red light to her request Ayia Napa for an increase in the members of the Municipal Council of the new Municipality of Ayia Napa which will include the municipal apartments Ayia Napa, Savior, Liopetriou, Avgorou and Achna. Ayia Napa was asking two additional members of the Municipal Council to the new Municipality, but such a thing would cause upheavals both in the newly established formation and in the reform of the local self-government itself, since it would remove a member from Liopetri and Achna. It is noted that the new Municipality will consist of 20 councilors corresponding to 4 (councillors) per department (including the Deputy Mayors).

The news of her reduction of the members in Liopetri and Achna caused the reaction of the local authorities in question which together with the rest of the local authorities except Ayia Napa last February sent a letter to the Parliament expressing their disagreement but opposed the general increase of municipal councilors from 20 to 22.

They requested an increase of Municipal Council members from 20 to 22

In their letter to the Parliament, the mayor Sotiras, Giorgos Ttakkas and the community leaders of Avgorou, Panagiotis Michaelas, Liopetriou Vassos Manolis and Achnas, Nikos Vasilas, express their disagreement with the increased representation of the municipal district of Ayia Napa with an internal redistribution of the twenty municipal councillors.

The representatives of the four local authorities insisted on suggestion for increasing the total number of Municipal Councilors who will participate in the Council of the new "Municipality of Ayia Napa" by two additional Members of the municipal district of Ayia Napa, i.e. in 22 members, without any influence on the number of Municipal Members of the other municipal departments of Sotiras, Avgorou, Liopetriou and Achnas.

«We", note the four, "we have always considered that any special regulation of legislation in relation to the new Municipality of Ayia Napa should not be achieved through redistribution of seats (resulting in the loss of seats of any municipal district) but by increased representation in the municipal district of Ayia Napa. This approach is consistent with the relevant legislation."

In addition, the mayor Sotiras and the community leaders, Achnas, Avgorou and Liopetriou, also responded to the concerns that were expressed, that in case their proposal is adopted, there will be legal issues. "We consider that there is no legal issue. At the moment it was accepted in the new Law on Municipalities that the Municipality of Ayia Napa should receive specific treatment due to its particularities, the special regulation in question is not limited to regulation with a weighting factor but can be done otherwise, e.g. . with an increase in the total number of Municipal Councilors in the new Municipality of "Agia Napa", in relation to the rest of the newly established Municipalities".

Regarding the problem that may arise with the participation of the members of the municipal council, in Famagusta Provincial Organization of Self-Government, proposed as the two additional members of the municipal department of Ayia Napa, not have the right to vote to EOA, so that no legal or other issue arises.

"Therefore, our suggestion is that a relevant arrangement be made so that only the 20 Members of the Municipal Council of the newly established Municipality of Agia Napa" participate in the General Assembly of the E.O.A. and the municipal district of Agia Napa determines with its own vote the Members which will participate with the right to vote-to the E.O.A., so that the number remains as the basic allocation factor which is determined before the allocation of increased representation to the Municipal District of Agia Napa", the four report.

At the same time, they expressed the position that in this way, "the remaining Municipalities of our Province will not be affected in any way in relation to the General Assemblies and in general the operation of the E.O.A., in view of the fact that the new Municipality of Ayia Napa" will participate with the basic number of seats allocated to the E.O. A. It should be noted that the Municipality of Ayia Napa evolved into a municipality precisely because of its financial potential, something that is also recognized in the relevant legislation. The need for special regulation, whatever its manifestation may be, can justify an increase in representation and under no circumstances in such a case can any other Municipality invoke unequal treatment".

Rejection of an increase in City Council members by the Ministry of the Interior

Ayia Napa is back requesting an increase in the number of advisers to 22 (out of 20 foreseen for the whole of the new Municipality) something that was rejected by the ministry, which considered that a bad precedent was being created.

Subsequently, a proposal was submitted to the ministry that the councilors should be increased to 22 but not have the right to vote.

However, by this logic, a party could for example say "give me two more MPs", who, although they will be paid by the taxpayers, will not vote. And if the request were submitted by all the parties or all the components of the 20 youths (which include 63 communities) it would be a "bad waste", at a huge cost to the taxpayers.

With the proposal for two additional councilors, who will not vote, the question was also raised which two will they be? If for example the two additional councilors of Ayia Napa secure more votes than the councilors to be elected from one community (due purely to a difference in the population of Ayia Napa from one constituent community) who will vote? Is it fair that one who received more votes should not vote and someone who received less should vote?

Increased representation in the Municipal Council is a "burning desire" of Ayia Napa

From the very beginning of the discussions on local government reform, Ayia Napa strongly put forward the request for increased representation in the new Municipal Council with additional members of the Municipal Council by presenting the economic criteria and using as a tangible argument either the number of water meters or the volume of production of waste in the Sewerage System.

Already from December 2018 in communication of the then Mayor of Ayia Napa, Giannis Karousos strongly argued for the increased representation of Ayia Napa.

Our revenues and overall finances exceed or are at the same level as those of large urban municipalities and, as you can understand, are among the highest in Cyprus. This is also a factor that should be taken into account in the local government reform, since it is clear that Ayia Napa does not need to merge with any other municipality. We ask that the finances and economic viability of each municipality be taken into account in the reform of Local Government.

In particular, they should be taken into account in the representation of the municipalities in the organizations that will be created at the provincial level (such as Water Supply, sewerage). If they are not taken into account and the representation is proportionate to the population based on registered voters we risk seeing councils in which municipalities, such as Ayia Napa, contribute up to 40% of the budget and have only 5% of the members represented.

The Municipality of Ayia Napa with 280 employees and workers, with 40,000 tourist beds, with 5 million tourist overnight stays, with 15,000 tons of waste is not a Municipality of 5000 inhabitants, but a Municipality of 60,000 active population and indeed sustainable and which can even today survive without the slightest state sponsorship".

Intense performances from AKEL of Ayia Napa

Representative representation in the new municipality according to the financial capacity and the active population was also requested through a letter on January 11 of last year by AKEL Municipal Committee of Ayia Napa.

Read also: AKEL of Agia Napa: They are asking for greater representation of councilors in the new Municipality

According letter sent to the Municipal Council, it is stated that in the calculation of the number of councilors of the municipal district of Ayia Napa from July 1, 2024, the economy of Ayia Napa as well as the active population must be taken into account. The legislation passed for the reform includes such a provision for the Municipalities of Ayia Napa and Peyia, after recognizing their particularities in relation to the tourism industry. Specifically, with the issuance of relevant Regulations, it is possible to calculate the number of municipal councilors after taking into account the financial capacity, as well as the active population, which includes visitors in addition to permanent residents on the basis of an annual comparative study of indicator of use of sewage networks.

With these as facts and in view of the activation of the new map of the Local Government from July 1st, the municipal group of AKEL in the existing Municipality of Ayia Napa sent a letter to the Municipal Council essentially requesting that these special provisions be activated in order for Ayia Napa to ensure representation which belongs to the new municipality in which Sotira, Liopetri, Avgorou and Achna will also participate as municipal districts.

The municipal team of AKEL recommends to the Municipal Council that a decision be taken to regulate the matter and indeed immediately, since the time frames are narrowing. More specifically, AKEL's proposal provides that in determining the municipal councilors of the municipal district of Agia Napa, the number of voters must be taken into account as well as the financial capacity of the municipality, as documented by the annual income and expenditure budget of the immediately preceding year which is 2023. "With this proposal, the fair and representative representation of the municipal district of Agia Napa in the new municipality is ensured", they emphasize in the letter co-signed by municipal councilors Emilia Xydia, Thanasis Yasemi and Panagiotis Markou. As they also note, upon taking a relevant decision by the Municipal Council, it must be communicated immediately to the Minister of the Interior and the Council of Ministers so that the relevant Regulations can be issued and brought to the Parliament for approval.

The proposal submitted to the Home Affairs Committee

In introductory report on February 22, 2024 with the proposed draft laws concerning the amendments to the Law on Municipalities, the following are mentioned:

Regarding the issue of the distribution of the municipal councilors of the new municipalities of Ayia Napa and Akama, which arises by virtue of subsection (7) of article 13 of the basic law, the Ministry of the Interior, taking into account the strong written representations of four of the five under merger of local authorities of the Municipality of Ayia Napa, believes that the provision in question should be deleted, so that the distribution is made on the basis of the number of registered voters only.

However, it is noted that, in the event that the parliamentary parties favor the retention of the provision in question, the Ministry of the Interior has already prepared draft Regulations, according to which a 70% weighting is given to the number of registered voters and 30% to the financial capacity of each municipal apartment, which was calculated on the basis of the approved budgets of the last five years. Based on the above calculations, the municipal district of Agia Napa receives two additional municipal councilors, against a reduction of one municipal councilor in the municipal districts of Achnas and Liopetriou respectively. With reference to the Municipality of Akamas, it is noted that based on these calculations, no differentiation occurs.

The red of the Parliament

Η Parliamentary Committee on the Interior studied the bills in two sessions, held on March 14 and 21, 2024. In the framework of the committee meetings, among others, the general director of the Ministry of the Interior, accompanied by officials, as well as representatives of the Ministry of Finance, were invited and attended before it. of the Legal Service of the Republic and the Union of Municipalities of Cyprus.

In its report of 26 March 2024, the Commission states the following regarding the proposed law:

Repeal of the provisions which provide, exceptionally, for the determination of the number of municipal councilors to be elected in the municipal districts of Ayia Napa and Peyia and by extension in the new municipalities of Ayia Napa and Akama according to special regulations, instead of based on the number of voters in the municipality concerned.

Therefore, the Home Affairs Committee rejected any provisions regarding the increase of municipal council members in Ayia Napa and Peyia according to special arrangements, instead of based on the number of voters.