The Ministry of Regional Affairs today published a list of various upcoming municipal mergers, in which 18 municipalities will be reduced to seven before the October 20 local elections.
“Local people will gain most from these mergers, as a larger municipality can do more for its residents. An annually renewed local government aptitude index highlights clearly the fact that below the 5,000 resident threshold, efficiency starts to greatly decrease,” said Siim Kiisler, minister of regional affairs, in a press release today.
The total number of municipalities in Estonia will be reduced from 226 to 215.
Smaller, struggling municipalities have so far only been encouraged to merge with their neighbors, but most have resisted such reforms. However, the regional affairs minister has submitted a plan, pending the approval of Cabinet and Parliament, by which local governments could be forced into mergers.
Kiisler's grand plan for administrative reform could end with the country having only 30 to 50 local governments by 2017.
Kärdla City Merger Sneaks In
In one recent case, the council of the island municipality of Kõrgessaare voted on Friday, the deadline for submitting mergers taking effect next fall, to begin the process of merging with Kärdla city, after a previous vote ended in deadlock, reported Hiiu Elu.
The local governments held a non-binding referendum on the issue two weeks ago, with residents of both municipalities agreeing to the move. Kärdla's city council approved the merger straight away, but the Kõrgessaare council only agreed after a second round of votes on Friday.
The two Hiiumaa municipalities will form the Hiiu municipality, with a combined population of 4,934.
The other 6 new municipalities
- Kose and Kõue in Harju County will merge to become Kose, population 7,314.
- Pärsti, Paistu, Saarepeedi and Viiratsi will establish the Viljandi rural municipality, population 9,751.
- Lavassaare and Audru in Pärnu County will form Audru municipality, population 5,926.
- Risti, Taebla and Oru, in Lääne County, are set to unite into Lääne-Nigula, population 4,288.
- The town of Põlva and the surrounding rural municipality, in southeast Estonia, will merge with a combined population of 10,160.
- Püssi, Maidla and Lüganuse will form the Lüganuse rural municipality, population 3,390.