Since the legislation did not directly envisage the process of creation of city okrugs on the base of municipal districts, in this case there were used the mechanisms permitting to achieve such results by making a certain series of steps aimed at the transformation of municipal entities. It should be noted that different algorithms were used in different regions.
Thus, in the Belgorod oblast, for instance, on the base of municipal entities there were created two city okrugs – Gubkin and Stary Oskol. The process of transformation was implemented on the base of the following steps: 1) development and approval of the general plan of an urban settlement – a district center embracing the whole territory of the district; 2) organization of the voting of the population on the issue of agreement to amalgamate all settlements situated in the territory of the municipal district thus creating a new municipal entity, which should be granted the status of a city okrug and in which the territories of settlements should be granted the status of administrative entities of the city okrug; 3) adoption of a regional law on the change of the territorial organization of local self-government.
A different variant was envisaged as concerned the amalgamation of the Odintsovo district of the Moscow oblast initiated by the head of the district. In this case, the proposed transformation clearly was politically motivated and was aimed at the retaining of the right to dispose of land and other valuable resources in this territory by the municipal district. The initiative on this transformation include neither the working out of an integrated general plan of development of the territory as an urban settlement, neither a program of development of the territory of the district as a single urban territory. It should be also noted that in the territory of the district there were situated independent city okrugs, the destiny of which in the course of the transformation was also not determined.
RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks The algorithm of the transformation planned in this case included the following stages:
1) organization of local referendums on the change of the administrative and territorial structure of the district aimed at the transformation of six towns and urban type settlements into rural settlements; 2) amalgamation of new rural settlements with the urban settlement Odintsovo resulting in the creation of a single urban settlement; 3) granting of the status of a city okrug to the urban settlement created within the extended boundaries.
In the course of this process there emerged numerous scandals and conflicts. In spite of an unprecedented administrative pressure, in one of the urban settlements the local referendum held on December 2, 2007, rejected the transformation. At present, the combination of the high proneness to conflicts of the processes of transformation, an active opposition on the part of the expert community and the interest of international organizations in the outcome of the confrontation resulted in the halt of the implementation of plans aimed at the amalgamation of the Oditsovo district.
Even more complicated situation develops in the case the regional authorities attempt to liquidate the distortions of the federal legislation and recreate the two tier model of local selfgovernment in the territories of the artificially created city okrugs. For instance, such a problem was encountered by the authorities of the Kaliningrad oblast. The first step towards the resolution of this problem was the claims submitted by the Governor of the oblast to the regional Charter Court; with respect to these claims the court passed the judgment that a number of laws on the territorial organization of local self-government in the Kaliningrad oblast was not in conformity with the Charter of the Kaliningrad oblast. In the autumn of 2007, there was adopted a number of legislative acts of the Kaliningrad oblast aimed at the change of the territorial organization of local self-government. Primarily, these acts concerned the Baltiysk and Svetlogorsk city okrugs.
However, the laws concerning the transformation of the Baltiysk city okrug were disputed in the regional court on the basis that they were adopted without taking into account the opinion of its residents. The RF Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the Kaliningrad oblast court157. At present, the legislation of the Kaliningrad oblast concerning the territorial transformation of the Baltiysk city okrug is reviewed by the RF Constitutional Court. The ruling of the RF Constitutional Court concerning this case will be of the principal importance for further reforms both in the Kaliningrad oblast and other regions of Russia.
Urban Agglomerations Quite new processes of the transformation of the territorial organization of local selfgovernment were related to the creation of urban agglomerations. The legal framework of the Russian Federation contains no definition of agglomeration. However, since the spring of 2007 this problem was more actively discussed. By all appearances, this problem had attracted attention due to the implementation of the project “Affordable Housing”. However, the immediate impulse to such a discussion came from the RF Ministry of Regional Development, which announced the creation of urban agglomeration centers with multimillion populations as one of the strategic avenues of spatial development of Russian territories permitting to create the basic structure of the system of administration and modernization of the national econ See: http://www.regnum.ru/news/923610.html report of November 29, 2007, “Verkhovny sud otkazalsya uprazdnyat Baltiysky gorodskoi okrug v Kaliningradskoi oblasti” [The Supreme Court refused to liquidate the Baltiysk city okrug in the Kaliningrad oblast].
Section Institutional Problems omy. As a priorities there are reviewed projects “Greater Rostov” (the amalgamation of Rostov-On-Don, Novocherkassk, Taganrog, Aksai, Bataisk, Azov), agglomeration “Irkutsk – Angarsk – Shelekhov”, “Vladivostok – Nakhodka – Ussuriysk – Artem”, “Samara – Togliatti”, “Tomsk – Seversk” and some others.
In 2007, the major processes related to the formation of urban agglomerations developed along two avenues.
On the one hand, there was started the elaboration of a number of projects envisaging the creation of polycentric agglomerations with several city nucleuses on the basis of the ideology developed by the RF Ministry of Regional Development. As concerns these projects, the most intensively there develops the situation around the project “Irkutsk – Angarsk – Shelekhov.” With the help of experts, there were determined the limits of the agglomeration.
There was started the elaboration of specific projects permitting to ensure a dynamic development of the agglomeration in such spheres as transport, water supply, utilization of solid household waste, and so on. There were discussed the variants of specialization of territories within agglomerations, as well as projects of creation of new development centers (for instance, the move of the administrative center outside the limits of the city of Irkutsk). In the structure of administration of the Irkutsk oblast there was established the office of a deputy of the Governor responsible for the creation of a free economic zone of recreational nature at the Baikal and formation of the Irkutsk urban agglomeration.
However, the example of the Irkutsk agglomeration helps to understand the conflicts inevitably related to the processes of amalgamation. While the authorities of the towns of Angarsk and Shelekhov actively supported this process since they hoped to benefit because of it both in economic and political aspects, the authorities of Irkutsk oppose such an initiative.
The major concerns related to the political consequences of this process are also clear – the creation of the agglomeration may result in the continuation of centralization of political power at the regional level and formation of a mechanism permitting to further limit rights and powers of the bodies of local self-government.
The processes of agglomeration also intensified in the Chuvash Republic. In this region there were in fact made first steps towards the reformation of the Cheboksary agglomeration on the base of amalgamation of the cities of Cheboksary and Novocherkassk situated 15 kilometers from each other and a part of the Cheboksary district. It should be noted that in this case there was chosen the toughest form of amalgamation – the full merger of different municipal entities. Such an approach, in the case it is used, would result in rather serious problems relating to the ensuring of manageability of new municipal entities, which, as the international experience demonstrates, require significant efforts to be resolved.
On the other hand, there develop natural processes of formation of monocentric agglomerations around large cities reflecting the intensification of interrelations of the city nucleus with surrounding territories on the basis of push pull migrations, economic ties, processes of suburbanization, and so on. In this case, the inter-municipal cooperation in different forms is an organizational mechanism of agglomeration. A certain experience of such activities was obtained in the city of Tver, where there was organized cooperation with the bodies of local self-government of the Kalininsky and Rameshkovsky districts. In order to ensure the implementation of the agreement on cooperation between the administrations of the city of Tver, the Kalininsky and Rameshkovsky districts, the Tver City Duma had approved the city targeted program “Inter-municipal cooperation in 2006 through 2008”. Similar programs aimed RUSSIAN ECONOMY IN trends and outlooks at the fulfillment of common tasks of inter-municipal cooperation were adopted also in both suburban districts.
Similar processes were observed in the framework of the Chelyabinsk agglomeration.
There was organized cooperation between the city and suburban municipalities as concerns the issues relating to production and sale of agricultural produce. There were also elaborated the opportunities of cooperation along some other avenues, for instance, water supply and utilization of solid household waste. There had started to function a working group consisting of chief architects of the municipalities comprising the agglomeration of municipalities and deputies of the heads of municipal entities responsible for economic issues. The work carried out by this group was aimed at the coordination of general plans of development of municipal entities. There was underway the preparation for the creation of the Agglomeration Council.
Since urban agglomerations are a new and actively developing element of the territorial structure, special attention should be paid to the experience relating to the organization of cooperation among municipal entities and within them.
5. 6. 4. Ways of Efficient Resolution of Issues of Local Importance of Settlements Traditionally, the discussion on the ways of resolution of local issues at the level of settlements has been focused on the question if settlements have sufficient resources to exercise the powers vested in them. This survey focuses on the issues, what factors determine the efficiency of the resolution of local issues at the level of settlements (and, therefore, the amount of necessary resources), and to what extent settlement use the resources available for the enhancement of efficiency.
Creation of numerous small municipal entities has made more urgent the problem of losses resulting from the insufficient scale as concerned the resolution of issues of local importance. However, in the course of the reform it was expected that such losses could be compensated as a result of:
• The powers related to the organization of provision of services ensuring the maximum economy of scale will be concentrated at the level of municipal districts;
• At the level of settlements, there will be introduced additional mechanisms of mobilization of the potential of local communities permitting to compensate losses;
• Settlements will use the mechanisms of inter-municipal cooperation in order to enhance the efficiency of their activities.
The two year experience of implementation of the municipal reform permits to arrive to some preliminary conclusions on the extent to which these expectations were fulfilled. A research concerning the current situation permitted to reveal the following specific features of the resolution of issues of local importance at the level of settlements.
First, it has turned out that the division of issues of local importance between municipal districts and settlements failed to fully prevent losses resulting from insufficient scale of activities. It was caused not only by mistakes in the division of powers between the two tiers of the local self-government, but also the underestimation of such a factor that the uniform division of the jurisdictions of the bodies of local self-government notwithstanding the density and dispersion of the population, as well as the prevalence of urban or rural territories in any case results in inevitable losses. At present, this problem is especially apparent in the sphere of collection, removal and utilization of household waste. The legal framework of local selfSection Institutional Problems government assigns the issues related to collection and removal of waste to settlements, whereas the issues of utilization of waste were assigned to municipal districts. In the case the density of the population is high, settlements are not far from each other, and the road network is developed, it is really more feasible to concentrate utilization and processing of household waste at higher tiers of municipal administration both in economic and social terms. However, as concerns territories characterized by low density of the population and significant territorial dispersion of settlements all these positive effects are brought to naught. In the situation, where a transport haul to the solid waste landfill makes several dozens kilometers, it turns out that transportation of waste to the official landfills is economically unjustified. At the same time, the bodies of local self-government of a municipal district have no incentives to take into account the interests of settlements as concerns this issue158. As a result, in the best case settlements organize own landfills without any official supervision, and in the worst case the waste is unloaded outside special landfills: in forests, on the sides of motor roads, and so on.
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