Two years have already passed since the beginning of our term as the Municipal Authority of Chalkida.
During this period, Greece went through an unprecedented sequence of events that have exacerbated the ongoing economic crisis: two elections, a referendum, a third bailout memorandum, and the implementation of new painful fiscal measures.
Within this recessionary, suffocating context the Local Government had to, to address the social and development needs of the local community it serves with significantly reduced resources.
Two years later, we can say that, to a large extent, we as the Local Government managed to meet the demanding needs of the victims of the economic crisis and to provide solutions to problems relating to services provided by the central state.
The Municipality of Chalkida is the most populated municipality of mainland Greece maintaining one of the highest unemployment rates in both the active and the young population in our country.
The strategy we have set as a new Municipal Authority from the beginning of our mandate, concerned four areas:
A) Extroversion and tourism development
B) Infrastructure development
C) Provide relief to those affected by the crisis / social services to our citizens
D) Operational optimization, cost savings, improvement of citizens service.
Let’s see briefly what we have accomplished so far:
A)Extroversion and tourism development
This axis of our strategy is an important economic growth driver for our city and the wider region.
Chalkida is strongly feeling the impact of the economic crisis and the high deindustrialization rate that has experienced from the mid-1990s onwards. Once a city of labour and a home to many industries it has become today a city of unemployment. Our goal from the day we took office was to establish a strategy to create jobs and, consequently to increase local income.
Tourism development, the attraction of visitors and the adoption of an extrovert character by the city is already bearing fruit. In this context we created new institutions, revived comparative advantages and contested to host big events that brought thousands of visitors to our city and laid the foundations for further growth. The following actions are indicative:
• Organization of the European championship basketball Young Men, last July
• Establishment of the Sea Carnival, the first in our country with this character. Last year approximately twenty thousand (20,000) visitors came to our city
• Revival of the car race, the famous Ritsona ascent
• Reactivation of the motorsport race track and the hosting of the Panhellenic motocross championship
• Hosting a multitude of national and international tournaments. In November we will host the european taekwodo championship.
• Recording and further development of the city’s cultural stock
Finally, it is worth mentioning our involvement in the so-called city diplomacy. In this area we are moving very dynamically and we have already signed a memorandum of cooperation with the third fastest growing city of China, Wuhan with its nine million (nine million) inhabitants. Two (2) workshops have already been held with representatives of the Chinese city in Chalkida and we are planning our visit to China in the coming months.
• Chalkida’s City Market: a problem of more than twnety-five (25) years, which haunts and discredits our historic city center. After a coordinated effort of the Municipal Authority finally this problem is coming to an end. The architectural competition has already been completed and I am optimistic that by the end of our term contruction of the project will begin. This project will involve the largest urban renewal that has taken place in our Municipality in the recent decades and will be dicisive in upgrading the historic city center.
• Chalkida’s new hospital: A project that was set to a stall, is now nearing completion and the Municipal Authority used all its means to this end. A series of technical studies and projects concerning the surrounding area are nearing completion. These are necessary for the functional integration of this important project.
• Implementation of bioclimatic technology at Chalkida’s Courts Square. This project was put on track by the previous Municipal Authority. Its contstuction began in January 2015 was recently completed and allowed for use by the public.
• Cavitation process at Chalkida promenade: the first coordinated effort to confront this issue began upon the assumption of our duties. This important project was for many years a request of the local community and it is undertaken by the Regional Government of Central Greece.
• School buidings: 4 new schools are soon to be delivered. Moreover, in 2016 we allocated one million euros (1.000.000€) for reconstruction and other technical works to improve the facilities of existing schools.
• Biological treatment facility at the Municipal Unit of Avlida and Anthidona: The internal sewerage networks have been completed. The next step is to publish the call for tender for the integration and construction of the final recipient of wastewater, a technical project with a cost of almost six million euros (6.000.000€),
• Sports facilities: A call for tender has already been completed and the contractor has already been installed who will take over the completion of the indoor sports hall at Vasiliko. Furthermore, we have upgraded nearly all of our outdoor and indoor sports facilities in our City, such as the municipal swimming pool.
• Seventeen (17) new playgrounds have already been delivered while another seven (7) are being constructed.
• More than 100 small and medium-sized projects are underway around the City
• “Minimum Guaranteed Income” program- Meal card – Food program: Participation of four thousand (4,000) beneficiaries
• Children Creative Centres: This is the first time that this program was inroduced to the citizens of our City. Last year we managed to provide two hundred and fifty-one (251) openings for children to participate in the program and this year we significantly increased the beneficiaries and doubled the openings for the children of our City creating at the same time new jobs for teaching staff etc.
• Maintaining and strengthening our welfare services: Help at Home program, Center for the Disabled, Public Grocery etc.
• Suppot for foold allowance, for the homeless and other vulnerable groups
D)Operational optimization, cost savings, improvement of citizens service
• Digital Municipality: upon coordinated effort we have launched a series of new digital services both for the internal operation of the Administration and for our citizens. Our Municipality is one of the first in the country to have fully implemented digital signature systems and e-government processes. Furthermore, we are among the first Municipalities that provides e-payment serivces to our citizens and businesses. The adoption of digital services benefits our citizens and significantly reduces paperwork.
• We directed a significant swift to our IT systems using open source technologies in a variety of back office applications, thus saving considerable resources annually and significantly improving the productivity of our services.
• For the first time we recorded the City’s real estate and will continue with studies for its optimal exploitation.
• We participated in European know-how exchange programs such as the Erasmus program for environmental issues, waste management, etc.
There is still a long way to go. We believe that we have set solid foundations to improve our function and contribution to the local community despite the rigid and restrictive context within which we had to act.
Our goal is that the Municipality of Chalkida becomes a role model of an open, green, citizen-and-visitor-friendly City. We owe it to our history and this is what our citizens deserve.
This is our goal and we will achieve it.