Starosta districts in AHs: questions and answers

By Oleksandr Vrublevskyi, expert consultant of the DESPRO Project on starostas’ activities and cooperation of hromadas

In February 2017, a new term of “starosta district” was introduced in the Law of Ukraine “On Local Self-Government in Ukraine” (hereinafter – Law No. 280/97-VR). The legislator defined it as part of the territory of amalgamated hromada, formed in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Voluntary Amalgamation of Hromadas”, which has one or several settlements (villages, urban-type settlements), in addition to the AH administrative centre, determined by the village, settlement, city council in order to ensure the representation of the interests of residents of such a settlement (settlements) by the starosta.

How many starosta districts should there be in AHs? By whom, when and how are they formed? What is a starosta district like? This publication features the answers to the mentioned questions.

How many starosta districts should there be in the amalgamated hromada?

There is no clear answer to this question in the current legislation. There is only a provision of the Law No. 280/97-VR, stipulating that formation of starosta districts belongs to issues that are solved exclusively at plenary meetings of a village, settlement, city council of amalgamated hromada, established in accordance with the Law of Ukraine “On Voluntary Amalgamation of Hromadas” (Article 26 (part 3), clause 1).

Should the boundaries of starosta districts coincide with the borders of the former hromadas that existed before the amalgamation (accession to the AH)?

The current legislation does not contain such a requirement. Although under certain circumstances, boundaries of starosta districts can coincide with the borders of the former hromadas that existed before amalgamation (accession to the AH).

Who and in what way has the right to form starosta districts?

The right to establish starosta districts is granted exclusively to village, settlement, city councils of amalgamated hromadas. Anyone else, whether the head of AH, or the executive committee, is not authorised to form a starosta district. However, AH head and the members of the executive committee, in accordance with the rules of the council and executive committee, can include starosta district related issues into the agenda of the relevant local self-government body.

What should be obligatorily pointed out in the decision of the AH Council on the formation of starosta districts?

The current legislation does not impose special requirements to the decision of the AH Council regarding the formation of starosta districts. Usually, the decision on starosta district formation contains the following information:

  • names of starosta districts and their centres;
  • list of settlements that are part of each starosta district;
  • addresses of administrative buildings where starostas work;
  • acting starostas (surnames, names and patronymics) and names of starosta districts, which will be subject to the authority of the corresponding acting starostas.

How many starostas should exercise their powers in one of starosta district?

The conclusion that one starosta has to exercise his/her powers in one starosta district can come after an analysis of certain norms of the Law No. 280/97-VR.

Can the AH Council change the number of starosta districts or their boundaries after holding the first or regular elections of starostas till the next elections of starostas?

In spite of the fact that the current legislation does not directly prohibit doing so, in my opinion, the change in the number of starosta districts or their boundaries after the elected starostas start to exercise their powers would be contrary to the logic of the relations between the starosta and the voters.

I think that the number of starosta districts or their boundaries can change only before the elections of starostas, provided that in the future the residents of the changed starosta districts will choose their respective starostas.

How many settlements should be part of the starosta district?

This issue is not regulated by the law. From the legislative definition of the starosta district, provided in the Law No. 280/97-VR (paragraph twenty four of Article 1), it follows that it may be one settlement or several (except for the administrative cenre of the AH).

Is it possible to consider starosta district in some other meanings?

I believe that the legislative definition of the term “starosta district” does not fully reflect its real meaning, since definitions, as a rule, contain only the main features of legal terms. Other features of legal terms usually appear already during their analysis or corresponding interpretation.

P.S. Additional questions can be put to the author of the publication at the Forum of Starostas http://forum.decentralization.gov.ua

The full version is available in Ukrainian – please click HERE

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