An annual study commissioned by the Minister for Regional Affairs to measure the capability of the nation's 226 municipalities has found that smaller local governments are moving in the right direction in terms of development.
“The positive news is that smaller municipalities, by that I mean those further away, have closed the gap a little compared to others. The development is probably due to the help of EU funds,” said Rivo Noorkõiv, who heads Geomedia, the company that carried out the study.
Most basic investments have now been made, Noorkõiv said, adding that schools, kindergartens and libraries have all been renovated and now it is time to concentrate on businesses.
Speaking to ERR radio, he said that the southern part of the country has traditionally lagged behind the rest of Estonia, but figures from the new study show that western areas are also struggling.
Besides the redrawing of administrative lines, the state government also needs to change the taxation policies connected with local governments, Noorkõiv said.
Geomedia analyzed five variables to measure each government's capability, including the well-being of residents, business environment, the financial situation of the municipality, administrative capabilities and public services.
In the study's ranking, local governments near Tallinn such as Rae, Viimsi, Harku and Saue topped the list, while the capital itself was fifth and Tartu tenth.