Dear people of Kiev!
Today, the public was offered to decide on the elimination of district councils in Kiev. This is a long-lasting problem that demands solution, as the city has repeatedly had to deal with misunderstanding and lack of communication on behalf of district authorities. Elected through electoral lists, the current district heads do not represent the interests of voters, but rather the interests of political forces which formed the majority in district councils and appointed them to the office. That is why today, both district heads and political forces that had put their members in the councils, regard district administrations solely as a tool for solving their problems, which may be anything other than the problems of the residents and the community. Just look at this winter: while the city had supplied the districts with all necessary equipment and materials, the district heads sent janitors to distribute election leaflets instead of cleaning the streets of the snow. Today, the district councils are highly politicised, causing political instability in the administration of the city.
The fact that district heads are politicians rather than administrators leads to the destruction of the executive vertical and eventually to mismanagement. Lack of accountability to the city government of district heads elected by district councils causes decline and corruption.
Keeping the existing model of the district administration, where district heads are elected by district councils, will deepen the crisis of the administration in Kiev, escalating the conflict between the city authorities and district heads, while elections to district councils may result in a situation, where political forces with no representation in the city council may find their way in district councils. Thus the political struggle will eventually destroy a unified economic policy aligned by the city and the districts.
People believe that the city council and the mayor are personally responsible for everything what happens in Kiev. At the same time, there are 10 districts in Kiev, and each has its own head. It may sound strange, but today district heads in Kiev do not report to the city authorities. Moreover, in Kiev we have a situation where heads of district councils, who are also heads of districts, support political opponents of the city authorities. Which means they pursue a policy based on the principle “the worse the situation in the district, the better for me”. After all, the blame will fall on the city authorities.
I think this is what makes some district heads appear on TV and do some self-PR instead of inspecting neighbourhoods and repairing broken elevators.
Today, district heads are accountable neither to people, as they are appointed by politicians, nor to the city authorities, because they do not report to them.
Our proposals are not new: for instance, district councils in Lvov were eliminated back in 1994–1995. As a result, the administration system became simpler, the number of MPs was reduced by 900, and the number of staff working in the executive branch fell by 25%. The savings went to the local council to raise wages of officials. In 1996, the state commission on administrative reform in Ukraine said that this initiative was a success. District councils do not exist in Uzhgorod, Ivano-Frankovsk, Rovno, Khmelnitsky, Ternopol, Lutsk, Krivoy Rog, Sumy, Nikolaev, Gorlovka, Makeyevka, Odessa and Zaporozhye. Last year, the decision not to hold district elections was taken in Vinnitsa, Cherkassy and Kharkov. In Kharkov, the savings from eliminating district councils are expected to reach 266 million hryvnias.
I strongly believe that district authorities should complement rather than oppose or ignore the decisions made at the city level. District heads should be concerned not with politics but with the implementation of programmes approved by the city authorities.
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