Ante Bilić: Trogir is among the few Croatian municipalities which engage citizens in the local politics and Participatory budgeting
“My biggest goal is to ensure all development, infrastructural and social conditions to make Trogir the most desirable small coastal town for all generations”
- December 13, 2018 09:30, 2980 impressions
- Monika Dimitrova
Ante Bilić was born on 1st October 1980, Civil Engineer by profession. He is married, father of two children. Member of the Social Democratic Party of Croatia. Mayor of Trogir since June 2017.
Describe the town of Trogir in a few sentences.
Trogir is a small Dalmatian town whose historical town core is protected by UNESCO. We like to call it the “town museum“ due to its numerous cultural and historical sites. We often say it is marked by the works of art of our prominent artists and masters – like famous Radovan and masters in shipbuilding, cooking, music, coral and leather industry. Due to its position, size and content, Trogir is one of the human-scale towns, located in a convenient micro-location and it is the centre of its mini region of about 30 000 inhabitants; big enough to contain everything you need for everyday life, and still small enough for a comfortable life far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
You are very young and active mayor. What are the biggest challenges in your everyday work?
My biggest challenge is struggling with the slow administration process in Croatia which slows down the development of the town, and therefore the changes cannot occur at the rate I would like them to. However, given the circumstances, we are doing our best. My biggest goal is to ensure all development, infrastructural and social conditions to make Trogir the most desirable small coastal town for all generations. Another important aim is to make Trogir recognizable Mediterranean destination and therefore we started creating an effective brand strategy. We want to attract the interest of the investors, particularly in the field of tourism, our tradition but also the fastest growing industry, especially in terms of infrastructure and capacity.
Croatia has been a member of the EU for only 5 years, but your municipality has already managed to implement EU funded projects. Can you tell us about how they have improved the quality of life in Trogir?
The most significant EU funded project is “Dječji vrtić Trogir – partner obiteljima“ (Kindergarten of Trogir – partner of the families) which has improved the conditions in our kindergartens – in terms of professional staff (speech therapists, special needs experts and tutors), sports activities and flexible working hours that have never existed in Trogir. Another important project is energy renovation of the kindergartens which will result in even more pleasant stay in our kindergarten areas and significant energy saving. We are very pleased that we are given the opportunity to use European funds for such projects.
Share others good practices from your municipality.
We tend to get our citizens involved in the local politics and we are the first town in the region and one of the few in Croatia engaged in the project Participatory budgeting, where the citizens themselves decide about the projects they wish to be funded. Since our goal is transparency and two-way communication with our citizens, we started various smaller projects such as newspapers, different publications, and we use social networks to inform the citizens as well. We provided free books and all necessary materials for primary school pupils, and we award our best students with scholarships.
What do you think about a unified platform for European municipalities and its main goal to make and keep European citizens better informed about what is taking place in the European Union? How can the portal be useful to you and to the citizens of Trogir?
I think it is a useful platform for informing in general, exchanging experiences and interaction between the European municipalities and the EU. European citizens will be better informed about the events, politics and opportunities provided by the European Union, which directly or indirectly influence the citizens. I believe the work of the European municipalities will be improved, certain processes will be accelerated, especially in terms of sustainability. This unique platform will offer useful content for thousands of people in various fields.
Which are the main goals and good examples you plan to develop for the near future?
We are planning to carry out three big and ambitious projects related to restoration and preservation of cultural and horticultural heritage in a short period of time with the help of the EU. Our first project is “Trogirska kamena enciklopedija“ (The Stone Encyclopedia of Trogir), that includes complex restoration documentation for restoration of valuable historical and individually protected cultural sites in the old town centre. Complete documentation should be ready next year when the restoration works should start. Another project is „Garagninov vrtal – Europski park svih Trogirana“ (The garden of Garagnin – European park of all the citizens of Trogir) focusing on renovation of the old town park from the 19th century, the first botanical garden in this part of Europe. The main project and management plan are ready, and feasibility study has been in progress. Upon completion of the documentation we are planning to initiate the second phase of the restoration of the park in the very centre of the town which is not often seen in the European cities. Our third project is the renovation of the town cinema which is now a decaying building. The renovation will start next year. Our goal is to make it a multimedia area for cultural activities. It will be used by numerous associations, musicians, freelancers that will host a variety of manifestation thus reviving the social aspect of the town. Apart from the mentioned project, next year we are going to apply for the EU funding in order to initiate the project for one beautiful sea promenade that could become one of the town symbols.
*You can learn more about Trogir from the city profile on our platform