Mayor says austerity budget will not hurt services

The City of Athens will be forced to operate with a significantly smaller budget this year, in line with the austerity drive being pursued by the government, but cutbacks at the municipal radio station and other services are to be offset by improved social services, Athens Mayor Giorgos Kaminis said on Thursday.

Municipal authorities will have some 170 million euros trimmed from their budget which is to drop to 818 million euros this year compared to 990 million euros in 2010. City Hall also owes some 77 million euros to its suppliers.

But Kaminis told a press conference that these financial constraints will not stop municipal authorities from introducing certain measures to improve the daily lives of Athenians. These measures are to include the use of mobile barriers on certain busy pedestrianized streets in central Athens such as Dionysiou Areopagitou, Aghiou Pavlou and Ermou to keep out motorists. Another planned measure is to offer bicycles for rent in the historic district of Plaka.

Kaminis added that authorities would seek to fully exploit European Union subsidies to get these and other projects off the ground.

One of the key municipal services to have come under the knife is City Hall?s Athina 984 radio station with 83 employees losing their jobs.

Taking stock of his two months in the job, Kaminis said that municipal teams had managed to make the capital?s streets cleaner and to put up more street lights with the aim of making the city safer at night. The mayor said that people had already started returning to the historic center, snubbed by many in recent months due to a rising crime rate.

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