Sindi wants exception to new minimum population requirement
The small town of Sindi, with a population of nearly 4,000, has yet to initiate merger talks with any other local governments, and has expressed its interest in seeking an exception from the government which would allow them to continue in its present form despite not meeting the required population minimum of 5,000. The Pärnu county governor, however, found that there are no grounds for such an exception in this case.
Sindi Municipal Council has rejected the city of Pärnu's proposal to initiate merger talks and has itself received negative answers from Paikuse, Tori and Sauga Municipalities, who had already entered into talks with Pärnu. As Sauga Municipal Council recently called into question the point of merging with Pärnu and thereafter sent merger talk proposals to Sindi and multiple other local governments, Sindi's council will discuss this proposal next week. Overall, however, the dominant desire in the Western Estonian small town has been to continue on independently, reported ETV's nightly news broadcast "Aktuaalne kaamera."
"Yes, we still have certain sentiments, of Sindi as one of Estonia's small towns," explained Sindi mayor Marko Šorin. "Small towns have their own functioning logic. Why not try to preserve a small town's independence as well? If a local government, in this case Sindi City Government, is capable of proving that any mergers would destroy a functioning community, then the [state] government has the discretionary power to stay a forced merger."
Pärnu County Governor Kalev Kaljuste did not agree with Šorin, however. The Sindi case has been disussed in the regional committee and an expert opinioni has been ordered as well — Sindi is closely tied to Pärnu and thus should merge with it as well.
"We have repeatedly gone to them together with the Ministry of Finance as well that they have no other realistic options," said Kaljuste. "Life in the town of Sindi is intertwined with Pärnu. Nearly 80 percent of Sindi residents work in Pärnu. In education, many people from multiple stages of study attend school in Pärnu."
Under the Administrative Reform Act signed into law this summer, a minimum population size of 5,000 per local government has been imposed. Local governments not meeting that required minimum have until the end of the current year to initiate voluntary merger talks with other local governments, after which they would be subject to forced mergers.