Saulkrasti spends 5,000 euros updating logo

The hurried introduction of a new Saulkrasti logo by the municipal council, without a public tender competition, has raised several questions, according to a Latvian Radio broadcast on January 13.

Many are questioning why the new one is being changed when the old visual identity is only a few years old, and right before major territorial reforms that will redraw many municipal boundaries are implemented. Some also asked why residents weren't given a say.

According to Mayor Normunds Līcis (Unity), the new logo created by designer Krists Dārziņš and made up of eight straight lines represents the movement of the sun throughout all four seasons.

“These amounts are really sensible and minimal, as minimal as possible. So strategy development cost 1,300 euros, and visual material development itself, if I'm not mistaken, cost 1,300 euros,” said the Mayor.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM), which is in charge of overseeing municipalities, admits many city councils have been making dubious purchases before losing power or being amalgamated, but that it's only possible to control the larger transactions. VARAM Ministerial Advisor Madars Lasmanis said that the ministry is currently very limited in its capacity to react to financial issues, but refuses to name and shame other municipalities that might have been exhibiting questionable spending patterns.

“Up to 50 000, if I'm being honest, it's essentially down to the honesty of council members, and secondly, the State Audit Office could also report these things, of course residents can also file reports,” said Lasmanis.

A few council members objected to the process for hurriedly adopting the changed logo. Although there were said to be several council employees working on the visual identity, other sources said that the working group was simply a formality. There was no public discussion, and now Saulkrasti has a large inventory of souvenirs with the old logo.

Besides the logo there are other signals that all is not well in the Saulkrasti municipality. Eight employees have already resigned, several services have been closed, and there are claims of nepotism as well as a fear of speaking out, claims one anonymous city council employee in an email.

As previously reported, on Thursday, November 7, 2019 the Law On Administrative Territories and Populated Areas was passed in the first reading by members of Saiema. According to the law, 39 municipalities will be created in place of the current 119 local municipalities by the next local elections.

Also reported, amid tractor protests in smaller regions and threats of turning to the Constitutional Court from larger cities, the New Conservative Party (JKP) announced that on Monday, November 25, 2019 the coalition conceptually agreed on joining Rūjiena and Naukšēni with Valmiera in accordance with the JKP proposal regarding regional administrative reforms.

Juris Pūce (Development/For!), the minister responsible for the reforms, went to Ikšķile to visit some of the loudest protesters. He has already held 40 regional discussions on the reforms, and plans to hold 60 more. The ministry has received and responded to more than 200 written letters from local municipalities and organizations, while phone centers have handled about 1000 resident questions and suggestions.

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