RIGA - Aleksandrs Bartasevics (Together for Latvia) claims that he has been removed from the post of Rezekne mayor as part of a major political campaign aimed at the Rezekne local government and him personally.
Bartasevics has not yet read Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Inga Berzina's (New Unity) decree on his removal from office, because it is a long text dealing with several topics. The ex-mayor's first impression is that it is not a "coherent and legally correct" document. Among other things, the document cites various trivial administrative irregularities, Bartasevics said, mentioning as an example the fact that he did not use the Latvian language in his private posts on social media.
"Let court deal with this document - as the legal regulation permits, I will prepare and file a complaint within a month. Let court decide on the lawfulness of this document and the lawfulness of my suspension," Bartasevics said.
Bartasevics also feels that his removal looks like a politically motivated process. According to the ex-mayor, previous regional development minister Maris Sprindzuks (United List) did not even need any arguments or state auditors' findings to initiate the process of his sacking. Likewise, "Berzina had the decree on the Rezekne mayor's suspension ready the next day after her appointment," Bartasevics said, adding that his job performance never received a proper and impartially assessment. An information background was ensured "for big money, including public funds," Bartasevics said.
As reported, Environmental Protection and Regional Development Minister Inga Berzina (New Unity) on Tuesday signed a decree suspending Rezekne Mayor Aleksandrs Bartasevics (Together for Latvia) over significant violations, as the ministry informed LETA.
The ministry explained earlier that Rezekne mayor knew that the municipality's budget was insufficient but pushed for its approval anyway.
Bartasevics also signed a contract for a construction project before Rezekne budget had been amended and before a decision on financing for the project had been taken, which is illegal.
As reported, in view of violations of financial management principles established at Rezekne City Council, the Finance Ministry has turned to the Prosecutor General's Office and other law enforcement authorities, prompting them to assess responsibility of Bartasevics and council employees for the financial situation in the municipality, representatives of the ministry informed LETA.
On October 11, the Finance Ministry's committee for examination of local governments' applications for stabilization and harmonization of projects for stabilization of local governments' finances held a meeting, which examined financial documents submitted by Rezekne municipality. Bartasevics and Rezekne City Council employees responsible for the municipality's finances were also invited to the committee's meeting.
Representatives of Rezekne City Council have confirmed that, when the city's 2023 budget was adopted, not all spending items were in the budget plan. The total amount of unprojected spending was EUR 2.1 million.
The Finance Ministry explains that therefore Rezekne City Council jeopardized the municipality's ability to meet its obligations and ensure performance of its autonomous functions. The municipality signed several contracts for ambitious investment projects, without budgeting the funds necessary for fulfilment of these obligations. The Finance Ministry has documents proving that the council employees responsible for this deliberately disregarded laws and regulations on financial planning principles.
Rezekne City Council was on September 1 instructed to submit an updated application for financial stabilization process so that the Finance Ministry could assess full information and reasons for financial stabilization process.
In the report, Rezekne City Council states that the city's 2023 budget does not foresee the necessary funding to cover all obligations of the municipality. In the ministry's opinion, this is a gross violation of financial management principles as well as of the regulatory framework.
According to this year's state budget law, Rezekne municipality cannot borrow more money as it is already unable to honor its obligations to creditors. As of August 31, the municipality's arrears stood at EUR 1.7 million, an increase of EUR 800,000 from July 31.