From Iceland — Says Merger Information One-Sided

Says Merger Information One-Sided

Published October 19, 2012

A resident of Garðabær has contended that election information being sent to homes is one-sided, encouraging residents to vote in favour of merging with Álftanes in tomorrow’s referendum. Town officials say the material is intended to be one-sided.
Álftanes is a small municipality which lies on the furthestmost point of the same peninsula that Garðabær occupies. While Álftanes is deeply in debt, Garðabær remains a financially stable community. As such, a combining of the two communities into one has been proposed. Tomorrow, a public referendum will be taken in which the residents will vote for or against the combination.
Garðabær mayor Gunnar Einarsson has spoken in favour of the merger, saying that while the total debt of Álftanes equals some 1.8 billion ISK, the financial status of Garðabær residents would remain unchanged, as would available services. Furthermore, he predicts that in the long run, the merger will mean some 8 billion ISK in additional revenues for Garðabær.
His enthusiasm for the move may be reflected in the information packs being sent to the homes of Garðabær residents, Vísir reports, as one resident has complained that it amounts to propaganda. It turns out that this was exactly the intention.
Ólafur Örn Nielsen filed a formal complaint with town officials over the material, and asked if the information was truly only supposed to detail the up-side of the proposed merger. He was told that this was the case.
“You have to ask yourself if it’s natural that the parties managing the election should only show one side of the issue,” he told the radio show Reykjavík síðdegis yesterday.
Kópavogur town councilperson Ólafur Þór Gunnarsson, speaking to Grapevine last week, said he believes the merger will benefit everyone.
“Garðabær will be getting 2,000 new taxpayers [if the merger occurs],” Ólafur said. “And considerable debt, but also new areas to develop and a relatively young tax base.”

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