|Bosilovo Vasilevo Novo Selo - joint administration bodies|
|Service Areas:||Administrative Services and Tasks, Urban Planning|
|Municipalities:||Novo Selo, Vasilevo, Bosilovo|
|Contact persons:||Tuse Stojanov, Aleksandar Stojkov, Milan Andonov|
In 2005, smaller and predominantly rural municipalities in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia faced an exceptional challenge in the symmetrical decentralization of competencies in terms of absorbing and implementing the whole package of transferred competencies. Thus, the need emerged for creating a joint administration of three municipalities in these competencies and achieving the most efficient and effective implementation of all transferred competencies.
The objective of the IMC is to reduce the administrative costs and to increase the operability of the municipalities involved. In this way, the quality of the services delivered to the citizens of each partner municipality will also increase.
The legal basis for cooperation consists in the following steps: First, the Decision of the Municipal Councils of Bosilovo, Vasilevo and Novo Selo on the Establishment of Joint Administration Bodies was adopted (September 2005). Then, an agreement was signed on the number of personnel in each unit, their positions and the required terms of reference for each job in the joint administration bodies of the municipalities of Bosilovo, Vasilevo and Novo Selo (October 2005). Next, another agreement was signed, which included the use of premises and equipment, financial procedures, and mode of separating the joint administration bodies (established by the Decision of the Councils of the Municipalities of Bosilovo, Vasilevo and Novo Selo in October 2005). Finally, the Agreement on the Financing of the Joint Administration Bodies was signed.
Concerning operations, the civil servants carry out their daily duties in the seat of the administrative bodyaccording tothe monthly Work Plan agreed by the mayors of the Municipalities of Bosilovo, Vasilevo and Novo Selo. Additional activities are carried out by a previously issued order of the mayor of the municipality where they will be performed and of the mayor of the municipality in which the seat of the joint administration body is located.
Municipality of Novo Selo:
At present, positions as the Unit Head and Senior Environment Protection Associate are not filled.
Municipality of Vasilevo:
Currently, the position of Head of Unit is vacant. One of the civil servants of the Unit lives in the Municipality of Novo Selo, one in the Municipality of Bosilovo and two in the Municipality of Vasilevo.
Municipality of Bosilovo:
Total costs – expenditures for salaries and other remunerations of the joint administration bodies are covered by the three municipalities. Each municipality covers salaries and other remunerations for the employees of the unit located in the respective municipality. The municipalities counterbalance possible disparity in salaries and other remunerations by determining the average payment (per month), and the excess amount is compensated by the other two municipalities. For the expenditures arising from additional needs, the Mayors sign separate written agreements.
The sustainability of the IMC activities is achieved by implementing the competencies: the units provide the necessary revenues. The common motivations are the savings of resources by reducing expenditures; continuous cooperation between municipal bodies, councils and mayors; and continuous cooperation between the municipal administrations and delivery of quality services as a result of qualified and trained personnel and cutting-edge equipment (concentrated in one unit).
In terms of accountability, the following actions are aimed at improving performance: regular updating of the webpages of the three municipalities; regular announcements, press conferences and participation in the citizen meetings; printing of a newsletter in the three municipalities (currently once a year); printing of brochures with various administrative procedures for the citizens; and a citizen satisfaction questionnaire available at the Citizens Service Centres. It should be also noted that the questions addressing council members are answered once a month in the Council Session.
Monitoring and evaluation are carried out through a weekly report on implemented and ongoing activities of the three units (submitted to the mayors) and the preparation of an Annual Work Plan for each civil servant (including the civil servants employed in the three joint administration units) submitted to the mayors and the Civil Servants Agency. The performance of civil servants is evaluated against the Work Plan. In addition, the mayor of the municipality where the seat of the joint administration body is located controls IMC’s performance directly. Other mayors control it indirectly. Moreover, there is a Document Management System installed in the municipalities, providing electronic document flow between Citizen Service Centres and joint units, while mayors and heads of units monitor the quality and timeliness of the administrative procedures and services.
In accordance with Article 61 of the Law on Local Self-Government, the mayors of the three municipalities jointly undertook and forwarded the Initiative to Establish Joint Administration Bodies to the Councils of the Municipalities, which was later discussed and adopted during their sessions. In the initiative, the mayors explained in greater detail the need for and the reasons behind this initiative to the members of the Councils and the citizens of their respective municipalities. Upon the adoption of the Initiative, the mayors submitted a Draft Decision on the Establishment of Joint Administration Bodies to their Municipal Councils, which included provisions on the units and their respective competencies and the location of their seats. After adoption of the Decision, the mayors drafted three separate agreements:
There are several characteristic phases of the IMC process:
It should be pointed out that political affiliation positively influenced the establishment of the IMC. Both the mayors and most of the municipal councillors belong to same political party. The assistance of external experts was necessary during the IMC establishment, which included an experienced lawyer, who is a civil servant of the Civil Servants Agency, Skopje. Assistance from the Units of Local Governments of Macedonia (ZELS) (with which municipalities made separate agreements), UNDP, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG) was also provided during the establishment of the IMC.
The technical assistance provided by the UNDP Project “Inter-Municipal Partnerships For Improved Public Service Quality” was extremely important for the success of the IMC. The following results were observed:
Assistance from the Central Government was provided by a civil servant (a lawyer from the Civil Servants Agency) and legal advice by the Ministry of Local Self-Government. It should be noted that the Ministry of Local Self-Government was a partner with the three municipalities in the implementation of the UNDP Project “Inter-municipal partnerships for improved public service quality”.
There were several difficulties during the establishment of IMC, mainly related to the lack of a convenient office space. In particular, there is a need to build new offices in the administration building to meet necessary spatial conditions of the joint Tax Administration and Collection Unit in the Municipality of Vasilevo. In addition, there was a lack of a more precise normative framework, including a regulation for the systematization of the job positions in the joint administration of the municipalities. Finally, the opposition members of the Councils pleaded for separation of the joint administration.
The most important success factors in the establishment of the IMC are: Political will within the municipal bodies to establish the IMC; willingness of the municipalities to cooperate and resolve issues jointly; skilled administration as a result of expert training in the areas of the established cooperation; and continuous promotion of IMC benefits.
From the municipalities’ perspective, there are several benefits of IMC:
The citizens benefit from IMC by streamlining the administration and its concentration in three joint organizational units, significant resources saved that are reallocated for other priority needs of citizens, prompt and improved service delivery to them, as well as increased transparency of work.
The established IMC enables cost distribution for a minimum 12 employees (according to the requirements of the normative framework) between the three municipalities. The average cost is about EUR800 monthly per employee, or EUR115,200 for 12 employees for one year. If the municipalities had established separate units, the additional costs for new 24 employees would have been EUR230,400; this resulted in a savings of EUR75,000–80,000 per municipality annually, which can be used towards other priorities in the municipalities.
It should also be noted that according to the Agreements, service costs are calculated on the basis of the analysis of the daily expenses derived from the performance of the administration. In addition, the IMC was established with the assistance of a donation for spatial organization – joint offices, equipment, vehicles, software and training by several donors: UNDP (EUR400,000), USAID (US$30 000), VNG (training) and European Agency for Reconstruction (EAR) (training, urban planning software). The initial costs to establish the IMC are covered with the savings from the operation of the IMC during one year.
Shortcomings of the established form of the IMC citizens have not been identified by the partner municipalities and the citizens.
The three municipalities have initiated expansion of the IMC in internal audit and joint IT administration,butcurrently no considerations are given to the initiation of cooperation with other municipalities.
Citizens should be informed of the benefits of the joint administration for establishing a successful IMC. It is also important that municipalities, particularly the rural ones, break away from the unrealistic notion of “local patriotism”, i.e. that they have the capacities to fully implement the decentralized competencies; mayors and councils should have political will to establish the IMC. In addition, the IMC should be established between municipalities that are linked geographically and economically, and that face the same problems (urban plans, road and communal infrastructure and local economic development (LED).
All the municipalities involved consider “The Establishment of Joint Administration Bodies” of the Municipalities of Bosilovo, Vasilevo, and Novo Selo to be a solid base that can be implemented both in rural municipalities and smaller urban municipalities in the Republic of Macedonia that lack the spatial conditions, financial resources, skilled personnel, and technical equipment for implementing the competencies derived from the laws and the decentralization process. The municipalities also believe that the Central Government should pass a Law on Inter-Municipal Cooperation, and the Civil Servants Agency should prepare a regulation on the basic principles (natural, geographical and economic) of internal organization for the joint administration units. If possible, relevant data from the Central Government should be available to the municipalities without reimbursement.
The municipalities consider that ZELS should assist the rural municipalities in the establishment of different IMC forms as well as initiate vis-à-vis the Central Government, preparation and adoption of the IMC Law and Regulation/By-law for the basic principles of internal organization for the joint administration units.
All involved municipalities are willing to communicate their experiences and share knowledge on establishing IMC, particularly on joint administration, including the preparation of all necessary documents for its establishment, the preparation and provision of training for joint administration operations, and permanent coordination and consultation for problem-solving.
The information about this practice was collected and presented by Toni Popovski.