Kyiv, October 20, 2016. Baikivtsi community, Ternopil region, united 5 separate village councils. The merger was motivated by the new powers provided by the law. However, the newly formed community is fully aware of the responsibility that arises along with a powerful resource given to the local government. This was stated by Anatoliy Kulyk, head of Baikivtsi community, Ternopil region, at a briefing held at Ukraine Crisis Media Center in the framework of UCMC initiative “Communities spokesperson”. “My colleagues and I read the law and saw a motivation what we can get when we start to unite. Those who oppose it usually see no need to read it,” he said.
Where does the money come from?
According to Anatoliy Kulyk, now investors have come to the community, the village has a powerful enterprise «Sumitomo Electric BordNetze», which produces on-board systems for Volkswagen cars. “This plant is built completely by foreign funds. It created 2,500 jobs and has plans to expand,” he noted. According to the calculations of the community, the local budget will get 50 million UAH from the enterprise this year. “On calculating the jobs and salaries, and the fact that 60% of personal income tax will remain in the local community, we realized that it is big money, which can help to develop not only our own locality but also the areas that will join us. Now we can also decide where to send the money,” explained Mr. Kulyk.
They also set up a registration center. With the adoption of the necessary legislation in October this year, all proceeds from the center’s activity will go to the local budget. This is about a million hryvnias per year.
Baikivtsi community also changed the regulatory monetary land valuation. For this purpose, they developed and approved a master plan, changed the boundaries of the village – entered the entire territory of the village council. “Over one year we got 1.5 million hryvnias from 200,000 hryvnias for payment for land. And we reduced rental rates,” stressed Mr. Kulyk.
Dispelling the myths
Opponents of united communities expressed concern that such a merger may lead to closing schools and health posts in villages and will make people go to another locality for certificates. Anatoliy Kulyk says that, on the contrary, medicine, education and culture are developing in the community. Services are provided in a convenient way. “We agreed that there is no need to go to the center for certificates, they can be given on the ground. Both the village head and a representative of the organization department have seals and give help on the ground,” explained Mr. Kulyk.
According to Volodymyr Gul, acting prefect of villages Lozove and Kurnyky, which have also been included in Baikivtsi community, but have not become its center, his villages have received about 1 million hryvnias. The money has been spent on the major repairs of a house of culture, improvement, street lighting and purchase of the latest science classroom for school. “To say nothing of the roads, which were not repaired for 20 or even 30 years. And now it takes 5-10 minutes to get from one village to another,” he informed.
Funds from the budget of communities are also spent on the maintenance of health infrastructure. According to Anatoliy Kulyk, each village has a medical and obstetric centre fully equipped with essential drugs and medical apparatuses. One of the villages has an outpatient medical room where, among all the necessary equipment, there is a clinical chemistry analyzer. There are also family physicians in the community. “All these services are free of charge. […] This year we have decided to purchase medical services of the secondary level. We are ready to pay for them not only in terms of subventions from the state, but also from our budget. We have signed an agreement with the hospital in Ternopil. Now our people do not need to purchase medical supplies for their treatment to be initiated. We are keeping the individual records of people receiving services there, and upon completion of services we pay,” noted Anatoliy Kulyk.
According to the head of Baikivtsi community, funds from the plant operation and other sources of the budget are planned to be primarily allocated for development of distant villages. Among the priorities are roads, health services, education and culture. 4.5 million hryvnias have been received from the central budget for the infrastructure development. Now a power transmission line is under construction, and one of the schools has been heat insulated.
Mr. Kulyk believes that it is necessary to cancel the moratorium on land sales. “People have parcels of land in shares, but they are not their owners. They are used by the large landowners. They come into the community investing absolutely nothing in the infrastructure. People receive only 3-5%, which is not the profit they should receive from the land rent. In fact, a land parcel owner is not its owner, if he cannot dispose of it at his discretion,” he believes.
The head of Baikivtsi community believes that the legislator does not keep up with the development of communities and often forces them to go a roundabout way: to make the master plan and to change the boundaries of settlements to somehow realize their right to dispose of their own land.
Another problem is the unstable legal framework. The draft laws are being introduced that propose to shift an additional financial burden to communities. “We need to know where we stand. We have agreed to observe the rules of the game, and they must be stable. In my opinion, it is not fair when additional charges are planned for us. The laws must be stable,” believes Mr. Kulyk.