Municipal Initiatives in Poland

Article excerpt

The city of Krakow, Poland, has many strengths that position it well to succeed in the transition to a market economy. Krakow is widely recognized as the scientific, cultural, and intellectual center of Poland. Positive changes put into place in Krakow can be accepted as a model for much of Poland.

Krakow also has a tradition of leadership in city government. Following this tradition, Krakow is now implementing the first professional city manager position in post-Communist Poland.

Yet the Communist regime left an unfortunate legacy of environmental degradation. The steel foundry, aluminum smelter, and chemical plants are all major polluters. The city's lack of proper sewerage and solid waste facilities also contributes to the area's pollution.

In spite of these challenging urban problems, Krakow is determined to overcome the damaging legacy of the postwar era and to build up a new economic base relying on tourism, trade, education, and technology.

The city government is taking decisive steps to achieve this objective by reorganizing itself along more professional and efficient lines. The intent of the reorganization is to reshape the managerial structure so that the constant involvement of the city council and the executive board can be avoided in the day-to-day administration of city business.

The city charter was amended to enable the council to authorize the proposed changes, and the position of city manager was created to provide stability and continuity in city administration.

Krakow's resolve to introduce professionalism at the local level in Poland was reinforced by its high-priority request to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) for an experienced long-term adviser. This position currently is staffed by Jan winters, ICMA consultant and former county administrator of Palm Beach, Florida. …