Donka Mihaylova , Source: Troyan Municipality

Troyan municipality is heading towards electronic governance and digitalization

Troyan municipality is heading towards electronic governance and digitalization

An interview with Donka Mihaylova, Mayor of Troyan in Bulgaria

Donka Mihaylova was born on 20 April, 1959 in Troyan. She has Higher Economic Education from "D. A. Tsenov "- Svishtov Univversity, specializing in "Finance and credit ". Married with two daughters.

Mihaylova has worked for many years in the non-governmental sector, she was chairman of the Association "Knowledge" in Lovech. From 2016 she is Deputy Chairman of the National Association of Municipalities of the Republic of Bulgaria. Member of the 40th National Assembly for the Lovech Region. She is a specialist in social policy and civil society. Evaluator of the operational programs, working actively on the processes of their planning and programming. Mayor of Troyan Municipality since 2011.

In 2018 Troyan turned 150 years old. How would you describe the town to someone who never visited it?

2018 was particularly exciting for the inhabitant of Troyan because we marked the 150th anniversary of the announcement of the settlement as a town. Nestled in the heart of the Balkan Mountains, Troyan carries a strong spirit that transmits the traditions from generation to generation. The Renaissance town is based on three pillars - the proximity to the mountains, the traditions and crafts and the entrepreneurship of the people. In the Troyan area, for centuries, several fundamental traditions have been passed through generations - pottery, carpentry and production of plum rakiya. Today, Troyan is a well-known destination for year-round tourism, as well as the variety of innovative cultural events the town offers to its visitors. In winter, tourists in Troyan can ski on the Bekleme slopes and then bathe in the mineral waters of the open water pools in Chiflik. Here everyone can find something interesting - for fans of mountain and nature, for those who want to learn more about history, adventurers, traditionalists and artists. Troyan attracts both lovers who have decided to marry and companies that want to surprise their employees with teambuilding experiences. Troyan is a place for those who want to learn woodcarving, ceramics or the secret of the production of the famous Troyan plum rakiya.

Mrs Mihaylova, you are Mayor of Troyan municipality since 2011, how has the city changed over this period?

For the past almost 8 years, the city has undergone major changes. We have implemented some of the largest projects, including Water Cycle II-phase, we have been able to reconstruct the educational institutions, implement projects for energy efficiency improvement of almost all public buildings. We are currently working on the last major project - the police building, as well as many private, multi-family homes. With successive efforts, we have been able to unveil important social services that the community needs, with special attention to children's healthy eating. We have created a municipal orchard to meet the needs for high nutrition foodstuffs in kindergartens. I must also mention the fact that unemployment in the city has dropped significantly to 4.5%. We have created prerequisites for stimulating investment and supporting small and medium-sized enterprises to maintain and create jobs. We have upgraded the urban environment. We have taken concrete measures to improve road safety in the city. We have continued old events and created new ones.

What challenges are yet to be resolved?

Important priorities for us remain limiting the impact of the demographic crisis and increasing of the income of the population.

Waste management is also a very important challenge. From how we will solve it depends on what household waste tax the inhabitants of Troyan will pay in the future. A few days ago, I signed a contract for the implementation of a very important project - one of the large-scale environmental projects of the municipalities of Troyan and Apriltsi. The contract for an installation for pre-treatment of municipal waste and a composting plant for separately collected biodegradable and/or green waste. We are working on developing the regional waste management system by looking for funds to build a new landfill cell. We have just closed a competition for a conceptual design for a new sports hall. The town's sports clubs, which each year win big titles and bring fame to their names and to Troyan, deserve a better base. The search for the most suitable form of the development of the “Sostra” archaeological complex continues, either through the use of EU financial instruments or through the means provided by the Municipal Property Act. We are working on concessions of a swimming pool, balneology and resort polyclinic in the village of Shipkovo.

Troyan is one of the municipalities that has received a WiFi4EU voucher. At what stage is the project and how will its implementation improve citizens' lives?      

In recent years, Troyan municipality has been heading towards electronic governance and digitalization. We are glad that Troyan municipality is among the first municipalities approved to receive a WIFI4EU voucher. We direct the project to local communities - to the young people who gather in the parks and the central parts and whose life is already constantly centred in the online space,the young people who constnatly use internet for e-services, shopping or visiting information channels. Of course, our guests, visitors to Troyan will also benefit from the service and it will help them share their emotions and experiences from Troyan in social networks for example or will give them quick and easy access to our tourist site from which to draw information on what to visit in the municipality. The points we have previously determined are in places where the flow of people is biggest, and we expect vast use of the service. In December, we signed the Grant Agreement. The 18-month period for building the network is running. The Commission has examined the submitted offers and we have already entered into a contract with the company, which within the budget of the program will create the hotspots we have submitted. We are also going to sign a contract for delivery of the Internet in these places.

Another piece of good news this year was that you managed to win energy efficiency projects for all public buildings in the city. Tell us a little bit more about this achievement.

During the current mandate Troyan municipality improved the energy efficiency of all public buildings in the town. Currently, the project for the city's regional police building is underway. The municipality, two administrative buildings, the prosecutor's office, the court, the fire station, the community center in the town are with a new and more friendly appearance to their visitors.

The European portal for cities and citizens - TheMayor.EU is a platform to promote good European practices. Tell us more about an initiative coming from Troyan, which you believe deserves to be shared with your colleagues from all over Europe.

In recent years, we have focused on the healthy eating of the youngest. While in the first mandate we rebuilt the Kids' Kitchen and unveiled points from which parents can get food for their children closer to  home, in the beginning of 2019 we founded the so-called "Mother-Kitchen" to prepare food for all children from the town's kindergartens. A system has been used to ensure the safety of food in its production and distribution. The techniques used to prepare it are baking, cooking, steam cooking, vacuum cooking and smoking. Cooking by frying is prohibited. The kitchen unit was modernized and equipped with the necessary modern equipment. The efforts of the Municipality are also developed by the work of the administration under the URBACT III international cooperation program with the management of the French city of Mouans-Sartoux. Municipality of Troyan draws valuable experience and good practices from its partners on the topic of healthy eating. Besides, once we have created an orchard - an idea that people did not take seriously at first, our ambition is to create a greenhouse by the end of the year to produce ecologically clean products for the needs of child nutrition.

What is your assessment of the second term of office? Did your team fulfill the set goals?

Over the past years, together with my team, we met many different challenges and we have come a long way in realizing projects that are important to the citizens of the municipality. We managed to develop important projects - circular junctions, a brand-new market - an iconic Troyan place, we had difficulties with the work of some of the implementation. We celebrated with dignity the 150th anniversary of our city. We helped dozens of our fellow citizens with the funding banks, we have established - Municipal Solidarity Fund to support the treatment of citizens from Troyan Municipality, Municipal Fund for Assisted Reproduction and Treatment of Reproductive Diseases, two students have benefited from a scholarship from the Municipal Fund for Supporting the Professional Development of Personnel in sector "Health" for Troyan Municipality. We helped the elderly and children in need with the three-year Christmas initiative "Make a gift to a stranger". In recent years, Troyan municipality has been actively working on new e-services, both on its own portal and on the centralized portal of the State Agency for Electronic Management and has been developing its array of complex administrative services.

More challenges lie ahead. There are ideas to implement, but we continue with our efforts to improve the living environment of the inhabitants of Troyan.

In October 2019, local elections will be held in Bulgaria, will you run again?

I have been thinking for a long time. I have decided, but I think I have to announce it first to the people who put forward my candidacy before going public. 

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