Letter from the Mayor

 
 

You can read the whole report from the Mayor in one place here. Work has continued since the publishing of this and that will show in the next report.


Dear Apokoronas residents

This is the third public account of the actions and achievements of this council’s administration.

The report mainly relates to 2017 but I will also refer to the last 46 months of our term in office, 4/5ths of the time before the next year’s municipal elections.

I would like once again to stress that Apokoronas is now making a sustained effort to make a claim on all available opportunities, something that has achieved positive results, and that the people of Apokoronas who see these, are beginning to believe more in their own abilities and become more hopeful and determined . 

From as early as last year we met almost all of our base targets, through a series of actions we had to take over time in order to meet our targets.

Some of these actions in our plan have been modified to reflect the changing circumstances and the local reality, while others have been completed or are ongoing to meet medium and long term targets.

One of the base targets of our 2014-2019 term has been to showcase the natural characteristics and comparative advantages of Apokoronas through specific actions to encourage the development of the local economy and improve social cohesion and environmental protection.

Apokoronas council has taken full advantage all the financial and legal opportunities available at local government level. At the same time it strengthened its central role in the area by fostering strong partnerships with the Region of Crete and other institutional stake holders in order to contribute to the realisation of common aims which although not strictly speaking part of the remit of the municipal council, have a direct  impact to the residents’ future and quality of life.

A complementary aim of the above is the strengthening of partnerships with local organisations, the encouragement of initiatives and activities from volunteer groups and in general the utilisation of the local human resources, as witnessed in the activities of the previous year. 

In this, my third public report, I will focus at only crucial for the municipality matters where we have already made substantial progress in the past year, while reference to other matters will be briefly made in each thematic report.

I have many colleagues in positions of responsibility, and each one has contributed to the work of the municipality. For that I would like to publicly thank them.

This account will not allow all of them to address you but, practicalities permitting,  they could all comment at length about their work.

In this account of our work, I will be followed by the presidents of our council’s two public entity companies, Mr Stavroulakis and Mrs Benaki with their report on the very significant areas of their responsibility.

Mrs Terezaki will also present a report on her outstanding management of stray animals and of the illegal Kaina (former) dog pound.

Finally I asked from one elected member who does not have deputy mayor or president duties but works quietly in the background, to present the significant contribution he has made to the council. 

I would like to warmly thank all the deputy mayors who have been responsible for the municipal units and for aspects of the work of the council as well as the council members with specific responsibilities for their high standards of work and effort that brought the municipality its present level of successes. 

Brief overview of achievements in the last 2 mayors reports 

In the last two reports covering the period of the summer before last, we have made reference to the following achievements:

Resolved the financial and operational problems of the municipality regarding existing debt of the Welfare Organisation and outstanding payments to OAK while ensuring an adequate and cheaper water supply.

Set up and operated the Social Supermarket and Clothes store 

Established  an educational institute (IEK) in Apokoronas

Set up a new EKAV unit in Kavros

Completed the upgrade of section of BOAK that crosses Apokoronas resurfacing 10 km of the road at the cost of € 3 million.

We commissioned a (improvement /safety) study for the section Georgioupolis – Petres

In collaboration with the Region  we secured over € 3 million funding for works such as the resurfacing of roads in Kalyves and Georgioupolis, works in Vamos, Maza – Kares, repairs of storm damage,

New works have been approved after studies and applications were submitted to the Agricultural development ministry. These are for improvements in Kalamitsi Al., Kalamitsi Am., Kambia, Kavalos, Tzitzifes and Vamos with a budget of  € 720,000 – as well as the nursery in Vamos and Stylos (€130,000) and road surfacing in Asi Gonia (€300,000). These are at the final stages of completion.

Gradually within a period of 3 years, a strategic choice of the new council was to prioritise works eligible for funding so that bids could be made under the new ESPA programme. The Municipality had a reserve of €500,000 of contributing own funds for that purpose.  New feasibility studies are now restricted to the continuation of the existing programme and for new projects we have secured funding from the Regional authority and the RWG (Crete) funding strand. 

Since 2017 Apokoronas prepared a comprehensive plan to replace street lighting with new low energy bulbs which is going to be submitted for funding to the EIB and the Greek Renewable Energy Authority as well as the Fund for Loans and Deposits.

In our first 3 years we had positive results obtaining planning permits for two significant projects, the Kalyves marina which had its EIS approved,  and the Kalyves sewage treatment  plant which worked without an environmental permit, and can now operate legally.

We also ensured the sustainability of Apokoronas Development Co by solving inherited operational and financial problems, so that it can continue its programme of fighting the olive fruit fly “Dacus Oleae”.

In previous reports detailed reference  was made to everyday matters, such as cleaning, water supply,  IT developments, tourism etc. and more specific to the work of the financial and cultural matters such as the activities of the Apokoronas Welfare Association.


In the last 12 months our collaboration with the regional authorities has played a vital role. These made available funds administered by regional Governor  Arnaoutakis available to our municipality for essential works. The total of new credits for the last 12 months equal the total of the last 3 years and approach € 8 million.

On addition of the new credits and the cooperation on the Koilaris river project, we have completed or are completing the work of the order projects of the Chania Regional Unit (Sports and provincial road network) as well as resurfacing of the CRU in Georgioupolis and the Old National Road.

The results of a good working relationship are now in evidence as well as the attention the regional officers Arnaoutakis and Voulgarakis and their offices in Heraklion and Chania  pay to Apokoronas. 

A special reference  should be made here, to the successful Second World Conference of Apokoronas associations at the IRP between 31/8 and 4/9 2017 where, among other issues,  the long term sustainable development of Apokoronas was discussed and long term targets were set.


Progress made in the last 12 months

In this progress report, the last before the final one covering progress for our whole term of office, I will make brief reference to significant developments of the last 3 years as well as new actions in the previous year.

Reference will be brief, thematic and only on aspects of our work where we made significant progress or achieved specific results

1. ROADS

The torrential rainfall during two storms (11/2/2017 and  26/10/2017) affected the Apokoronas pad infrastructure last year. Our efforts resulted in having most of our claims for repairs granted, thus getting €4 million for restoration and improvement works across the municipality. €2.5  million of that came as a direct grant to the municipality and were aimed at  road repair and maintenance (€1.73 million), the restoration of the water network, the playground at Neo Chorio and other works. A further €1.5 million was granted to the Chania prefectural unit for further restoration of the provincial road network, which is expected to start in the autumn. These are large amounts of funding, and we can without exaggeration claim that we have set set the pace with a claim for €2.5 million within 5 days of the storms of 31/102018. In the next few months we will proceed with all the necessary works that already started (at the time of the report in July) 

A long awaited road project that was made more urgent as a result of the storms was the restoration of the Old National Road (ONR), a busy arterial road crossing our municipality from east to west. Apokoronas municipal council working with Mr Arnaoutakis  and the Technical Department of the Region of Crete has submitted a plan for the total length of the ONR in Apokoronas. The cost of these improvements approaches €2 million from which €1.4 million have already been secured with the approval for the remaining amount pending.   

The proposed improvements to the ONR include:

Improvements in water drainage from the road surface in the section Kalyves exit to Kiliaris River

Repairs to the worn out sections of the road surface, trenches and safety barriers in the section Nio Chorio – Agii Pandes – Vryses

Replacement of the road surface and trench from the Vryses eastbound exit to VOAK

Partial restoration of the worn out road surface on the section VOAK to Georgioupolis westbound junction

Partial restoration of the worn out road surface on the section Asproulinas to Dramion westbound junction


A third significant road project is the construction of 2 agricultural roads in the municipal units of Armenoi and 2 in Georgioupolis with a total budget of €814,000 under the ESPA programme. Our proposal met the highest number of targets among the 29 proposals considered by the Crete RED Fund that fit the criteria of the tender (5.5 meter width etc). 

As far as the proposed construction of a new national road is concerned Apokoronas is at the centre of developments of both the construction of the section Chania Herakion and the road safety aspects of the section Georgioupolis – Petres.

The tender for the section of new national road from Souda to Linoperamata concerns the entire section that crosses Apokoronas. It is in our interests therefore that the tender satisfies our requirements, using correct procedures, avoiding construction delays and ensuring toll-free access for the residents of Apokoronas.

As far as road safety is concerned on the VOAK Georgioupolis –Petres section, this is a project that we have supported from the start and we have closely followed developments together with the DOC and the Region. The project has a projected cost  of €12.7 million, has planning permits and the necessary EI studies. There are two distinct phases to the completion of the project:

The first (€7.8 M) concentrates on the VOAK – junctions, pedestrian bridges and subways, safe exits, safe bus stops, surfacing etc) awaits final go-ahead from the DOC (OAK) that will be given this (last) summer.

Then the project will be submitted for funding to ESPA and will be put out to tender. We believe that the project should be monitored by the DOC (OAK ) and not from an Athens ministry department.

During the second phase there will be an upgrade of the parallel road to VOAK, with a uniform width, bridges, pavements, lighting etc at a cost of €4.9 million. The regional governor made available €148,000 for the study of 6 bridges  (Delfina, Kavros, and Mousela east and westbound) and another one in Petres. Funding is expected to come from the region.

In the last 12 months we had the whole of Georgioupolis road network resurfaced – apart from a part which will be completed at the end of the tourist season, while at the same time the regional unit completed works in Vamos and restored €245,000 worth of storm damaged roads.

It is evident from the above that all the priority projects in the area of road network maintenance and improvement are well on their way, with large amounts of funds for all the categories of road in Apokoronas. 

2. DRINKING WATER SUPPLY AND IRRIGATION

Plans for two important extensions to the water supply network, in the east of Vamos  MU and Georgioupolis –Kavros costed at €1.7 and €1.8 million respectively, have been submitted to the RED Crete fund but were not included in the programme due to a contractual oversight  in the agreement between the municipality and the region.  

The project however was submitted to the interior ministry for funding under a different strand FILODIMOS1 and it is awaiting funding from that source.

Once these two works have been completed all significant problems with the water supply in Apokoronas will effectively be over. Furthermore there will be additional environmental benefit in that there will be a reduction of water used from lake Kournas and Armenoi springs.

On 28/6/2018 Apokoronas submitted an application for the project ‘Irrigation in Central Apokoronas’ to be included in the agricultural development programme 2014 -20. The cost of the project is estimated to €2,752,800 incl VAT, and the evaluation of the application is expected this autumn.

This project is a long standing request of our municipality and the present administration made certain that all the relevant preparation, permits and technical reports were obtained.  The project is an extension of the greater  “West Crete Water Resources Management” project affecting  parts of Apokoronas and more specifically Kefalas, Xirosterni and Sellia where there is either no irrigation water or are supplied by private systems run locally. 


The next stage will be to complete the studies for extension of the network to the area between Kefalas and Drapanos.

The project is carried out in collaboration with the Crete Development Organisation and at the same time new studies have been commissioned for parts of southeast Apokoronas.

Another irrigation project the one at Asi-Gonia was delayed for procedural reasons leading to the replacement of the contractor but is now nearing completion requiring only connection of the pumping station to the electricity grid, after the council took the right action and managed the problems effectively. 

3. SEWAGE

1. We had some important positive developments on 3 levels in the Georgioupolis Sewage project:

A decision was made on the contractor for the treatment plant, after 3 years following the legal procedure.  Initial cost for the works was €6.7 million.  The work is expected to start immediately, beginning a substantial part of the total project of sewage treatment in the greater Georgioupolis area.

The drain network subcontract was 60% completed. The remaining part had a new permit and new studies carried out and will be eligible for ESPA funding with a budget  increase of around €3M. Despite the problems the outcomes were favourable and the problems were solved in the best possible way.

Finally, using the opportunity to resubmit our plans for approval, we included plans to expand the network to cover more areas beyond the scope of the original submission. Those areas approved will be eligible for inclusion the programme  FILODIMOS 1. A second phase of expanding the drain network will follow in any case when the new studies are completed and permits are obtained.

We also had significant progress in the works to extend the capacity of the Kalyves sewage processing plant. Mr Arnaoutakis accepted the councils proposal and approved a credit line of €372,000 for a study and the work required to expand the unit. The work will solve the problems emerging from the increase in the number of summer visitors and resident population.  

A positive step was taken in the process of studies and permit application for the sewage treatment in Almytida. The final stage of setting  shore boundaries  process opens the way for getting the project ready. Together with the Kalyves treatment plant network, the Almyrida plant will cover all the current needs for the whole of the tourist zone in Apokoronas. 

4. ENVIRONMENT AND TOURISM

1.A 60 stremma diving park in “Bros Gialos” cove in Kefalas is at the final stages of completion of the planning procces. The EIS was pproved and as soon as the planning permit is obtained we will start implementing the funding stage. This project is unique in Greece and often the centre of media attention. Many other municipalities who want to follow our example show an interest in our progress.

2.A network of walks across Apokoronas is beind developed in collaboration with the Region and deputy governor Michelogianakis.  We expect a full study complete by the end of the year and did for funding after that.

3.Recently a research project was launched following an agreement between the Region, the Polytechnic of Crete and the Municipality, on ways of protecting the forest on banks of Koiliaris and anti flood measures with a budjet of €186,000

The aim of this collaborative project is on the one hand to protect the environment and on the other to examine ways for more effective use of the water resources. The river Ksidas that runs through Kalyves will be included in the study.

4.In 2018 Apokoronas beaches were awarded 10 Blye Flags, 4 more than in 2015, somethind that indicates that the beaches in Apokoronas meet the necessary conditions for facilities and cleanliness. Blue flags make a contribution to the tourist product of Apokoronas.


5. OTHER ACTIONS AND WORKS

Apart from the above mentioned works, studies and actions, there are a number of other matters that do not come under any of the above categories. New studies, new funding obtained and works that have been completed. The main ones of these are:

1 . A proposal for restoring the square in the Meladiana neighbourhood of Asi Gonia  was approved by Crete governor with a budget of €156,000 and awaits the final stage of completing the studies and putting the work out to tender.

2. Works part of a wider programme of restoration what was not completed, for reasons outside the control of this administration we are now continuing with the project “Showcasing– Face-lifting  Pigadia and Gavalochori walking paths” worth €56,000, funded by the region. Tendering the work is pending.

3.  The football ground in Nio Chorio was destroyed in the storms of Oct 17. The football ground was immediately put in the restoration programme and €247, 000 work has started. The ground will hopefully be ready for use in the autumn.

4.  Two 5x5 football pitches in Vrysses and Kefalas and the upgrade of the basketball ground in Fres with a total budget of €244,000 are in the final stages of completion and will soon be open for public use.

5.  Artificial grass carpet placed in the 5x5 ground in Armenoi, a longstanding request from the community, using council’s own funds, to upgrade the opportunities for sport participation in the local community and beyond.

6. Preparation for obtaining certification of children’s playgrounds. The aim was to upgrade existing and create new facilities that comply with safety and other regulations. Apokoronas applied to FILODIMOS 2 programme for improvements and upgrades of 9 playgrounds at a cost of €300,000 that will be finalised after the completion of studies.  Additional funding sources will need to be sought, as the programme will not cover the entire cost of the project. 

7.  Included in the municipality’s technical programme a children’s playground and other recreational facilities in Kalyves at a cost of €140,000 from own funds.

8. An addition to and upgrade of the school buildings in the secondary school in Vamos, with new prefabricated rooms and toilets. The works will be completed in two stages funded by the regional education authority – the first with the placement of one teaching room and 2 toilets at a total cost of €76,000 and additional funding of €49,600 for another teaching room. This is something that the local community urgently needs so that the Vamos school can continue its education programme until a permanent solution is found. A new application for a new building is prepared to offer a permanent solution to the school accommodation problems.

9.  We have also made a several interventions to resolve problems with public buildings in the municipality using both external and own funding.  More specifically we have or are in the process of completing over €100,000 worth of works for among others, repairing the roof of the primary school in Embrosneros, insulating the school buildings in Vamos secondary, the maintenance of the primary school in Vryses and many others. From one off credits of the region we will carry out repairs to the municipal offices in Vrises and the primary school in Kalyves. We will also make a significant  procurement of materials for building repairs.

10. Another project entered for funding in 2015 in the LEADER programme is approaching completion overcoming problems and delays. Building repairs – Space configuration in Vamos playgroup and Stylos and Paidochori nursery, costed at €130,000 is largely completed and will be ready to use from the end of August.

11. Apokoronas participates in a ministry for social security and social solidarity  programme for setting up new units of infant, child and nursery care. The programme covers the cost of building modifications and repairs the studies and the equipment for new units.  Apokoronas elected to use the existing playgroup building in Kalyves to start a new unit creating 7 new positions with a subsidy from the   ‘Work-Life Balance’ strand of ESPA. The council is obliged to submit new documentation by 31/12/2018


6.FINANCES

In the last 12 months the municipal an auditor’s report was presented for the final budgets for 2015 and 2016 which were approved.  From the report the financial picture presented by Mrs Terezaki was confirmed. Given that in every year of our administration so far, the financial situation of the municipality has been confirmed by the auditors, we can safely say that the balance of accounts for 2017 was positive despite a reduction in the central grant by €363,735.63.

The account surplus allows us to get two new waste disposal trucks using own funds and start studies for new works.

Beyond the positive and improved picture of transferable balances from 2017 we have to stress that other items point towards the reduction of liabilities and better financial management for Apokoronas. Debts have been reduced to practically zero from around €600,000 in 2014 to below €200,000 in 2015-2016-2017 most of which were due to the accounting for December salaries paid in the beginning of January.

Furthermore the amount of money out placed in reserve was reduced because of faster clearing and payment systems introduced something that helps the procurement and good working relations with suppliers.

Credit for this improving picture of our municipality should be given to a large extend to all the council departments as well as to our finance services

7. EVERYDAY SERVICES TO RESIDENTS

In Apokoronas, elected members and municipal service employees work tirelessly to improve the everyday services to our residents.

These services, mainly cleaning and lighting, water,  sewage,  are making huge efforts to respond to greater demands  with fewer resources -  as do the deputy mayors responsible for these services.

Apokoronas is one of a handful of municipalities that has not increased municipal charges, while we improved services, even though there was an increase in the expenditure of the authority in VAT and energy charges.

The only increase in charges we could not avoid for 2018 will be to cover the very large increases in the cost of life guard cover for our beaches.

In brief:

We continue to maintain the machine plant we have to keep roads and rivers clear routinely and after extreme weather, to repair roads and water and sewage networks and in general deal with repairs that in the past were not done or were given to private contractors. 

We have bought two additional lorries through the FILODIMOS 2 programme to improve capacity in our technical service. 

We maintained this year an improved solid waste disposal service, for all villages not just for tourist areas and we increased the scope and the expenditure of the contact for the more frequent waste collection from popular resorts – Georgioupolis, Kavros, Kournas, Kalyves, Almyrida -  in the summer season to improve the image of these areas with visitors. 

The water service has responded well to the need for extra repairs to the network due to the damage caused by flooding.  We will continue the collaboration with the technical university for the regular monitoring of drinking water quality. Where the drinking water quality fails to meet the high standards set, we proceed with appropriate actions such as chlorination and cleaning of water tanks and pumping stations.

Additional funding was secured for repairs of the network and for measures to combat drought totalling €500.000.

Finally, the revenue has been increasing and more of our water service users paying their bills promptly, but we will still need to improve the rate of payment collection for water bills.

8.  MUNICIPAL SERVICES

As shown above, the action and new development in Apokoronas in the last 12 months are many, more than in any previous years.

To process this amount of works and actions we made and will continue to make a huge effort from all the municipal services who have to deal with an increasing bureaucracy at the same time as with the pressing daily matters needed to serve the citizens of Apokoronas.

Aside from the very active engagement with growth-related activity, the reduction of managerial positions, the difficulties of past years to deal with a maze of red tape required and the legislative changes in the responsibilities of the municipality have in the last few years overstretched local councils. 

The areas below give a flavour of the kind of adjustment that had to be made:

Since summer of 2016 the process of tendering works changed completely and more changes were brought in, in 2017. The result was periods of time when little could be done in the process of commissioning works. The total of these periods of inaction was over a year lost time.  Many of the works that are outstanding today could have been completed under the old less complicated system.

A radical change in the regulations governing cleaning services meant that private contractors could no longer be used. This has implications for a tourist area like Apokoronas where-  for example -  if 10 workers are needed in the winter and 30 in the summer, when the municipality has to employ permanent workers it can only afford 20 for all year round, having worker shortages in the summer and surplus in the winter . Added to which is the lengthy process of employing permanent staff, which this year caused us a degree of difficulty still trying to resolve.

Changes in the legal requirements for the provision of lifeguards, a municipal responsibility, were issued in April and came into force in May, while we have to provide the service from 1st June. We were therefore forced to apply emergency procedures, cancelling the recruitment in progress and spend an additional €100,000 over the planned budget  that will inevitably lead to an increase of the relevant charge next year. 

These and many other problems make the pressing everyday reality our services are faced with. They deserve our heartfelt thanks and our understanding for the occasional minor delay or oversight.

For our part the elected members need to support them and be understanding and supportive, regardless of any pressures on us to speed up the delivery of our programme and our service to the public.

I would therefore like to thank everyone and ask the director of financial services and administration Mathaio Stavroulaki and the head of the technical department Vana Kastrinaki to pass on our thanks to everyone in their departments and all the municipal employees. 

To conclude the account of the last year, I would like to say that apart from the many positive actions outlined above, there are certain actions that did not bring the desired outcomes or that were delayed, for a variety of reasons, some of which were beyond our control.

Specific examples of delays are the Interior Ministry funded water network extensions, because they had no ESPA clearance , the major project of the Kalyves Marina which did not progress, and the upgrade of street lighting, mainly because of delays in the final approval of the 2015 and 2016 budget. 

There are also disagreements about the unilateral decision of OAK (DOC) to increase the price of water and we hope to come to a just agreement in the near future.

We remain opposed to the restructuring of the police stations which meant the closure of two stations in Vamos and Vrysses thus affecting the effective policing of Apokoronas. The number of vacancies in the ambulance service (EKAV) of Apokoronas –Sfakia has also been a cause for concern, something which we hope to resolve in the near future.

Finally I would like to stress that the basic conclusion from all those who follow events in Apokoronas is that we have build up a relationship of trust and cooperation with almost all stakeholders involved in local matters.

Our excellent working relationship with the Region and the Regional Unit our common path with our neighbouring municipality of Sfakia and other municipalities, with regional services and OAK are examples of our thinking that can only be beneficial for our municipality.

Our policy of investing in studies to prepare for major projects has proved right from the results we achieved and will continue to achieve.

I will now pass you on to Mrs Terezaki who deserves a special mention for her efforts and achievements in managing stray companion animals in Apokoronas and the difficult task of tackling the problems of the illegal dog pound in Kaina.

Such a success, unprecedented in local government, would not be possible without the vision, the staying power the strong will and perseverance of Mrs Terezaki. 

In Apokoronas, apart from the political will of the council we had the individual who made the impossible possible, starting out without the infrastructure the organisation required for such a task but proved that with determination and will as weapons a lot of battles and the war can be won.

It is clear, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Deputy Mayor Terezaki is a pioneer in this field


CLOSING REMARKS

(MAYOR Ch. KOUKIANAKIS)

This presentation of our achievements of the last four years was without a doubt the most impressive yet and confirms that we have managed to complete our strategic aims taking into account the existing situation and conditions. 

In my first annual report I said that our first year’s results alone would have satisfied most other administrations over their whole term.

Today I feel that we surpassed all expectations and we have set our municipality on the path of completing many new and significant works that will carry over into the next term.

The only area we are falling behind is the time it takes each action as there are lots of procedures for each and many obstacles to be overcome. But I believe we have made significant progress.

However because of the volume of work and funding obtained we will not manage to complete all our aims in the time frame of this administration’s term.

Some of these will take another half of a term in office to see through.

There are also other projects that we would have liked to start (town planning, use of land etc) but that would be beyond the capacity of our overstretched services.

Our ambitious planning is without a doubt one that would require to be realised over 10 years, two full terms  but with our work so far we have gained the approval and support of the majority of Apokoronas residents and many of the agencies and institutions beyond our municipality.

My colleagues and I will continue to try our best to to improve Apokoronas for the sake of all the people that live here.

Thank you very much


 

Letter from the Mayor