January 31, 2023

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Søgne and Kristiansand – strong warning

On Wednesday, the state administrator in Aktor presented his impact assessment, or knowledge base, to the city council in Kristiansand. The report shows the results if the new large municipality is again divided into Chogne, Sangdalen and Kristiansand.

“Complicated and Expensive”

In his statement, the representative of the state in Aktor leaves little in between. A resolution would be too expensive and too difficult, the summary says.

“A division of Kristiansund by the dissolution of the present municipality and the establishment of two or three new municipalities would be a very large, complex and expensive project.”

In their preliminary calculation, the investigators estimate the direct cost to be between NOK 250 million and 400 million. This is based on the costs estimated by Ålesund, but before a definitive study is carried out.

State Administrator Gina Lund fears central services for citizens could be put at risk.

“Immediately after the merger, a new restructuring of this scale, together with the corona pandemic and the wear and tear brought with it, will be very demanding on the company and the employees. Critical services of the municipality are at risk of being affected,” he writes.

The inquiry looked at various areas such as community development, services for residents, local democracy and the financial implications for future municipalities.

A matter of honor

The bifurcation of the old Chogne Municipality has been a favorite issue for the Center Party. In the election campaign, Drikwe Slaksvold Vedam promised from the square in Sokne that the municipality would become its own master again.

When the Kristiansand city council said no to a division, the government extended the deadline and started the process itself.

There is strong opposition to the split in the political leadership in Kristiansand.

The government has granted an exemption to the municipality and extended the deadline for liquidation. It has also been decided that a referendum will be held.

But the city council in Kristiansand has rejected both the division and the referendum.

– Basically, the municipality does not want any division. “We want to finish the process now,” says Mayor and Op-Ed. John Odvar Skisland.

A health warning sounds

According to the state administrator’s knowledge base, a section of Kristiansand will end up exceeding what municipalities provide for their residents.

“Access to certain benefits and services for vulnerable children and youth may be reduced or terminated in the event of separation,” the state executive says.

Experts are also concerned about health and care services in the new, divided municipalities.

“A new Søgne municipality and a new Songdalen municipality risk facing challenges in establishing adequate adapted offers in all areas.”

Investigators also believe that the ambulance service that existed in the municipalities will not return.

“In Søgne-Songdalen it is not possible to go back to the previous arrangements for emergency services. This is due to the new demands for competence in the emergency department and the overall workload for GPs.”

However, the state administrator says that the school and nursery system will be little affected.

“Near”

In the report of the state administrator, there is a position on the future economy in three possible municipalities: Kristiansand, Chogne and Songdalen.

This is not just bad news for separatists.

“Once a division is completed, a new Søgne and a new Songdalen municipality can obtain the financial prerequisites to be separate municipalities,” says the state administrator.

When the three municipalities merged, the two smaller municipalities actually had the lowest debt, the knowledge base says.

The state executive also writes that a division is good for local democracy.

“A division can have a positive effect on local democracy in that more elected officials are closer to it,” the report says.

– A lot of restlessness

Municipal Director Camilla Dunsett said she has not lost sleep as a result of the case, and says there is continuing concern among municipal staff.

– There is a lot of excitement about this case. We are careful to ensure that we deliver what the state executive is asking for. I don’t see what problems a faction is meant to solve, quite the opposite. We are doing a good job keeping the municipality intact.

The city council in Kristiansund will now activate the knowledge base before going to consultation. A public hearing must also be held before the Ministry of Municipal Affairs decides what happens next on the wording.

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