Two years have already passed since the beginning of our term as the new 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 memorandum, the implementation of new painful fiscal measures.
Within this recessionary and suffocating context the Local Government was challenged to address the ever-increasing social needs with significantly reduced resources.
Two years later, we can say that, to a large extent, the Local Government has managed to meet the demanding needs for relief of the victims of the ongoing economic crisis and to provide solutions to problems relating to the Central State.
The Municipality of Chalkida is the most populated of Mainland Greece, maintaining one of the highest unemployment rates in both the active and 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) Relief of those affected by the crisis / provision of welfare services to our citizens
D)Operational optimization, cost savings, improvement of citizens services.
Let’s see briefly what we have accomplished so far:
A)Extroversion and tourism development
This axis of our strategy worth extra attention as we consider it to be an important economic growth driver both for our City and the wider region.
Chalkida is strongly feeling the impact of the economic crisis and the intense deindustrialization process which the city has experienced since the mid-1990s onwards. Once a city of labor and home to many industries, today it has become one of massive unemployment. Our goal from the day we took office was to establish a strategy that would allow us to boost job creation, thus increasing local income.
Tourism development, the attraction of visitors and the strengthening of our city’s extrovert character already bear fruit. In this context we have created new institutions, asserted our comparative advantages and contested to host popular events that attracted thousands of visitors to our city and laid the foundations for further growth. To indicate some:
• Organization of the European Young Men’s Basketball Championship, July 2016
• Introduction the Sea Carnival, the first in our country with this peculiar attribute. Last year twenty thousand (20.000) visitors came to our city.
• Revival of the one renowned car race, the famous Ritsona ascent.
• Use of the motor sport track race where the Panhellenic motocross championship took place.
• Hosting of a multitude of national championships. In November we will host the european taekwodo championship.
• Total recording and further development of the city’s cultural stock.
Finally, it’s worth to make a special mention of our involvement in the so-called city diplomacy. In this area we are acting very dynamically and we have already signed a memorandum of cooperation with the third fastest growing city of China, namely Wuhan, a city of nine million inhabitants. Two (2) workshops have already been held with representatives of the Chinese city in Chalkida and we are planning to visit China in the coming months.
• Chalkida City Market: a problem that has been around for more than 25 years, which has haunted and discredited our historic city center, is finally coming to an end after the coordinated effort of this Municipal Authority. The architectural competition has already been completed and I am optimistic that by the end of our term technical works will begin. This project will involve the largest urban renewal that has taken place in our Municipality in the recent decades and will be critical and decisive for the revival of our historic city center.
• Chalkida’s new hospital: A project that has long been stalled, is nearing to its completion and the Municipal Authority pushed in all directions for this outcome. At the same time we are completing a series of technical studies and projects for the surrounding area which are necessary for the functional integration of this important project to the existing infrastructure.
• Implementation of bio-climatic technology at Chalkida’s Courthouse Square. A project that began under the previous Municipal Authority, started after-all in January 2015 and has already been delivered for use by our citizens.
• Cavitation process at Chalkida’s promenade: This was the first coordinated effort we undertook upon assumption of our duties. This important project was a demand of the local community for many years, and its construction will be overseen by the Regional Government of Central Greece.
• School buildings: We have constructed four (4) new schools and in 2016 we allocated one million euros (1.000.000€) for reconstruction and other technical works to upgrade existing school buildings.
• Biological treatment at the Municipal Unit of Avlida and of Anthidona: We have completed construction of the internal sewerage networks and the nest step is to publish a call for tender for the integration and construction of the final recipient of waste-water, a very important project, with a cost of almost six million euros (6.000.000€)
• Sports facilities: The call for tender has already been completed and the contractor has already been installed to complete the indoor sports hall at Vasiliko. We have upgraded nearly all outdoor and indoor sports facilities in our Municipality, such as the Municipal swimming pool.
• Seventeen (17) new playgrounds have already been delivered while another seven (7) are being constructed.
• More than hundred (100) small and medium-sized technical projects are underway around the City
C)Relief of those affected by the crisis / provision of welfare services to our citizens
• “Minimum Guaranteed Income” program -Meal Card – Food Program: Participation of 4,000 beneficiaries
• Children’s Creative Centres: Last year our municipality run this program for the first time and last year alone we managed to secure two hundred and fifty-one (251) openings for the children of our city. This year we significantly increased the number of beneficiaries and managed to double the number of openings for the children of our Municipality. Through this action we are also creating new jobs for teaching staff.
• Maintaining and strengthening welfare structures: Help at Home program, Center for the Disabled, Public Grocery.
• Support for the food rations program, for the homeless and other vulnerable groups
D)Operational optimization, cost savings, improvement of citizens services.
• Digital Municipality: we have launched a series of new electronic services both for the internal operation of our Services and for our citizens. Our Municipality has adopted a holistic approach of e-governance systems implementation. We are among the first municipalities that provides electronic payments to our citizens and businesses. Moreover, we provide other electronic services that facilitate the every-day life of our citizens and significantly reduce paperwork.
• We introduced a significant swift to our IT systems by using open source technologies in a variety of back-office applications, thus saving considerable resources and significantly improving the productivity of our services.
• For the first time in the modern history of our Municipality we recorded the City’s real estate and we will continue by conducting a study on its optimal exploitation.
• We participated in European know-how exchange programs such as the Erasmus program for environmental issues, waste management, etc.
We have still a long way ahead. Nevertheless, we believe that we have laid down solid foundations for a positive change in our City 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. This is what our citizens deserve.
This is our goal and we will achieve it.