Kiviõli wants to merge with neighbors, form stronger parish
The town of Kiviõli and its neighboring parishes in Ida-Viru County came together to deliberate over merging their local governments to form a more viable future parish.
The first steps toward forming a new parish were taken in Maidla village on Wednesday. The town of Kiviõli has submitted a proposal for incorporation to its neighbors, Sonda, Lüganuse, and Aseri parishes. The new parish would cover approximately 600 square kilometers (230 square miles) and have a total population of about 11,000, reported Estonian news broadcast “Aktuaalne kaamera”.
“In the process of preparing the administrative reform law, experts have thoroughly analyzed all possible sizes and models of local government,” explained Mihkel Laan, cconsultant at OÜ Cumulus Consulting. “They found that a local government of 11,000 is big and capable enough to ensure [the availability of] various important strategic services.”
“There is very reasonable logic behind this, when four local governments join forces,” said Nikolai Vojeikin, mayor of Kiviõli. “There is economic logic, social logic, geographical logic—it’s got everything. We also agreed today that we will continue to develop this logic at a very brisk pace. We hope to have a version of the merger agreement ready after St. John’s Day [June 24].”
Sonda parish already reached a decision and is ready to consolidate its local government with that of Kiviõli. Parish mayor Andrea Eiche hoped that this unification would result in a more capable and qualified local government, which would make it a better place for its locals to live. She also hoped that a bigger parish would not start taking advantage of smaller ones in an effort to get more money.
Aseri vald had yet to decide whether to merge with Kiviõli or Kunda and Viru-Nigula parishes. They organized a referendum to help clarify which route residents would prefer to take. “The results indicated that 38 percent of eligible voters took part in the referendum, and of those, 77 percent voted in favor of incorporating with Viru-Nigula and Kunda,” said Parish Mayor Artur Seppern. “Aseri’s parish council still has final say over with whom talks will continue.”
Lüganuse parish had previous experience in the matter, having incorporated with Maidla parish and the town of Püssi already in 2013, and had advice on how to avoid mistakes made then.
“The biggest stumbling blocks clearly involved political so-called bickering—there was too much of that in the initial years,” explained Lüganuse Parish Mayor Viktor Rauam. “With this new association it would be critical to heed the reason why we are now, once again, in favor of electoral districts remaining separated according to the former parishes, and not all joined together to span the big new district.”
Deliberations over the formation of one big Kiviõli parish will continue after Aseri parish council makes its final decision in early April.