Shaky start for overhauled local authorities

As 325 new mayors and 13 regional governors sought to get to grips with the demands of their new positions on Monday, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis conceded that a burglary at City Hall?s procurement office over the weekend was ?not a very good start to the year.?

The raid on the offices, which police believe took place either late on New Year?s Eve or early on New Year?s Day, resulted in the theft of seven computers containing details about City Hall?s procurement contracts. Police reportedly believe that the raid was carried out either by a ring of municipal employees using the tender process to embezzle money or by the suppliers themselves.

There was no official police statement about the break-in on Monday but one police source told Kathimerini that officers were certain that the thieves had inside information about the workings of the offices on central Palaiologou Street. They knew that the key to the director?s office was kept in a wooden cupboard on the building?s ground floor and were aware of which computers contained data about the procurement contracts, the source said. The robbers had also found out that the premises would not be guarded on New Year?s Eve as the employee due to work that night had called in sick and had not been replaced.

Kaminis did not cast aspersions on members of the administration of his predecessor Nikitas Kaklamanis yesterday but he remarked that ?the incident raised questions.?

Meanwhile at other local authority offices across the country, the first day on the job was less dramatic but testing. Many mayors and governors are reportedly uncertain about the exact remit of their roles following a radical overhaul of local government introduced by the Kallikratis scheme in November. Many mayors in Attica have expressed fears that funding cuts will make it difficult for them to fulfill their new duties. Local authority officials in many major cities including Athens and Thessaloniki are said to be particularly concerned about waste management.