The government-proposed bill on local self-governance is expected to be amended, cutting number of towns with directly elected mayors from initially planned eighteen to twelve, according to a government official.
Currently Tbilisi is the only city in Georgia, which has a directly elected mayor.
The government-proposed self-governance reform, which the parliament will start discussing this week, envisages introducing direct election of mayors in seventeen more towns – those with population of at least 15,000.
But this criterion, based on number of population, will be changed, said Irakli Melashvili, who is in charge of local-self governance issues at government’s administration and who was involved in drafting of the bill.
He said on December 9 that it was decided to introduce direct election of mayor in those towns which are regional centers.
It means that along with those five cities, which currently have a status of “self-governed” towns (capital Tbilisi; Rustavi in Kvemo Kartli region; Kutaisi in Imereti; port town of Poti in Samegrelo and Batumi in Adjara), seven more towns will also be able to directly elect mayors: Telavi in Kakheti region; Zugdidi in Samegrelo; Mtskheta in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region; Gori in Shida Kartli; Akhaltsikhe in Samtskhe-Javakheti region; Ambrolauri in Racha-Lechkhumi.
Samtredia, Khashuri, Senaki, Zestaponi, Marneuli, Kobuleti, Tskaltubo and Kaspi will no longer fall in this list if the criteria are change. But if such change is made, these towns with their surrounding villages (making up municipalities) will still be able to directly elect head of municipality (gamgebeli); the same applies to all the rest of municipalities in the country, according to the proposed bill. Currently gamgebelis are appointed by elected local councils (Sakrebulo).