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Case description / summary
Canton Glarus is now equipped to face the challenges in the future. The municipal structures have been fundamentally streamlined and 25 village municipalities, 18 educational corporations, 16 social service corporations and 9 natural citizens corporations have joined to form 3 large and strong municipalities. The directive for the municipal structural reform was given by the glarner citizens at the citizen’s assembly 2006 and confirmed at the irregular citizen’s assembly in 2007. In only a few years canton Glarus has been given completely new municipal structures. In this connection there was a clarification of the tasks allocated to the municipalities and the canton, an optimization of the financial channels and an improvement in the public services. On the 1st January, 2010 the newly elected authorities of Glarus south, Glarus and Glarus north took up work in order to prepare themselves for the scheduled start of their municipality a year later. On the 1st July, 2010 they finally took over the duties from the authorities of the former municipalities. More than 500 glarner people worked on this reform project for 4 years. At the end of 2010 the project phase was completed and on 1st January, 2011 the 3 new municipalities officially ‚took off’.
The municipal structural reform has at all levels strengthened the canton, the municipalities and the citizens. The residents enjoy the benefits of a good and professional infrastructure and a up to date public service and the children a modern school system. Industry profits from improved general provisions, the municipalities have become more powerful and self-assertive. Together all benefit from the efficient and therefore economical utilisation of the financial resources. Due to this municipal structural reform the canton Glarus has become more competitive and has now established an excellent foundation to be able to present itself as a residential and industrial location.
The radical reform caused a sensation in the whole of Switzerland. This is seen in the comments in the Swiss press after the decision of the citizen’s assembly 2006 ‚ Glarus wipes out 22 municipalities’ was the title in the ‚Tages Anzeiger’. The ‚Neue Zürcher Zeitung’ wrote of an ‚exciting surprise’, and that the citizens had unexpectedly shown themselves to be liberal and reform friendly. The ‚Blick’ commented that ‚the Glarner had revolutionised their canton’ and the ‚St. Galler Tagblatt’ wrote ,no other canton has in a short space of time made such substantial changes as Glarus’. Even in the french speaking part of Switzerland the decision of the citizen’s assembly was acknowledged. The ‚L’Express’ in Neuchatel : ‚Un vent de révolution a soufflé sur la Landsgemeinde de Glaris’ (a revolutionary wind blew over the Glarner citizen’s assembly).
    1. Background

      The canton of Glarus offers its residents a high and secure standard of living, with its pretty villages, unspoilt countryside and the smallest ‚capital’ town in Switzerland.
      But in recent years there has been a radical change in the fundemental forms. There has been a below average development in the population and in industry and the growing competition in the tax rate means that the canton Glarus has had to assert itself.
      The canton and the municipalities did not have the financial means that they had had in the past. Many still expected the same services and above all the same tax rate.
      This can only be achieved if there is extensive growth in the population and in industry and at the same time using the limited financial means economically and wisely. For some time Canton Glarus has been facing the challenge of competing with the bordering cantons and municipalities when attracting new companies and residents. At first it appears surprising that the canton Glarus and the many municipalities were in this financially precare situation because canton Glarus is traditionally an industrialised canton and has very reasonable building land and is not far from the city of Zürich, which is the commercial centre of Switzerland. It also caused concern that the canton did no longer attract young familes to live in the wonderful countryside, where the living costs are only a fraction of those in the large cities. Finally the question had to be asked, why have not more residents of the Zürich area discovered the natural beauty of the countryside in the Glarnerland.
      Glarus is the fourth smallest canton in Switzerland with a population of 38'000. Even so it comprised of 70 corporations:, village municipalities, corporations for both education and social welfare, natural citizens corporations and further forms of alliances and unions. These complex and limited structures made it difficult to make decisions. In this case it was not possible to implement an effective strategy to make an improvement in the quality of living or in the location of industry. In addition to this the population of canton Glarus had strongly decreased since 1960 and had stagnated since 2001. Without any intervention it was inevitable that there would be negative consequences for various departments : education, health care, employment, social security and housing. The financial situation in some of the education corporations was a cause for alarm and the social welfare corporations had also suffered noticeably since 2000. Many Glarner municipalities – especially small municipalities – were reliant on the financial support of the canton. Apart from the financial problems and the complex and intricate structures in the municipalities, the insuffiency of members for the administrative bodies, it was altogether the lack of any perspective that gave the grounds for the fundamental reforms in canton Glarus. Furthermore it was the many horizontal and vertical mergers which took place without any influencing control from the canton and which did not make any financial contribution to the improvement of the structures in the canton or in the municipalities, which necessitated that action should be taken. The executive government and county council decided in autumn 2003 to examine and optimize the structures in the canton. The county council granted a credit of Chf. 250'000.- and a project group was appointed, which compiled a reform proposition for the citizen’s assembly in 2006. The citizen’s assembly not only accepted the proposition but went one big step further.

      The merger of the 70 corporations in the canton to 25 unitary municipalities was sanctioned , on the other hand the citizen’s assembly was not willing to sanction as proposed the reduction of these unitary municipalities to 10 medium-sized municipalities. The merger to form 3 large municipalities was sanctioned. The social and family welfare corporations came under central governmental control. Within only 4 years the municipality structure reform project 2011 : 3 strong municipalities - a competitive canton was implemented. This counts as one of the most important and central issues in the reform acts in the history of canton Glarus. It is an essential part of the comprehensive package of measures with which the canton Glarus and the municipalities will be formed so that they will be able to meet the future challenges and present the many advantages of the canton Glarus and the municipalities.

    2. General and specific objectives

      The municipality structure reform fundamental aim is to raise the effeciency of the public hand (canton and municipality) by introducing a lean organisation where the costs are reasonable and at the same time the structures are effective and there is a functional task allocation. Further the authorities and the administrative bodies should become more professional. Generally the aims of the project are as follows :
      - The organisational reform : The municipality structures should be optimized taking into consideration the professional aspect as well as efficiency and customer service.

      - The task reform : The public service should become more professional, the costs kept low and easily accessible for the citizens.

      - The structural reform : In order to fufill the tasks efficiently and to meet the requirements it is necessary that the most suited spatial structures are established.

      - The financial reform : The financing of the public duties should be transparent and the control should be the best possble.

      - The guiding principles : The canton Glarus should consist of a maximum of 7 municipalities, whereby this number is not unquestionable, but should be seen as a symbol for the willingness and determination to make the substantial structural changes.

      In concrete terms the reforms will contribute to the fact that the canton and the municipalities can provide low cost and easily accessible public services. The project comprises of task and financial reforms as well as an extensive and in-depth economical cuts package. The task reform consists of the new organisation of responsibilites between the canton and the municipalities. Some of the work assigned to the canton was able to be passed on to the municipalities. The task reform is closely linked to the financial reform, this requires a revision and new configuration of the financial system. The larger municipalities are able to improve the town and country planning which will make the canton Glarus more interesting for investors. The project also aims to make a larger contribution to the improvement in the finances of the canton and the municipalities. The canton administration has calculated that a possible substantial saving of 6 million Swiss Francs per annum can be achieved.
      This puts canton Glarus in a better financial position in the competition for locations in Switzerland. With these measures canton Glarus will be more attractive and competitive as a residential and industrial location.

    3. Input / resources utilized / allocated to the project

      The existing personnel were engaged from the start with the implementation of the municipality structure reform. The canton granted a maximum of 20 Million Swiss Francs to be used to equalize the varying amounts of assets in the municipalities.
      This figure included 1.34 Million Swiss Francs for external resources that the executive government could use to provide the best support for the municipalities. At present the overall costs are clearly lower than the credit which was granted. The implementation of the municipality structure reform that is to say the reduction and new organisation of the glarner municipalities from 70 corporations to 3 corporations took about 4 years and was up to now unique in Switzerland.

      Around 500 people were involved in the implementation in approximately 50 work groups. The extensive and in-depth municipality structure reform that affected many canton and communal departments required a detailed project organisation. The executive government had the strategical lead. The canton project management decided on various issues, first and foremost on contents and timescales and set the conditions for the organisational, legal and financial aspects and was responsible for the coordination. Under these conditions the project group ‚municipalities’ developed and worked independently on its structures and oversaw the coordination and the congruity in the designed 3 municipalities. The formation of the project group ‚canton’ was made mainly by the canton, that of the project group ‚municipalities’ by the municipalities. Where possible the joint projects were to be started as parities. A participatory approach in the realisation was of upmost importance so that the end-product would be recognised by all parties. The project organisation was based on mutual trust and respect between the canton and the municipalities. The project management for the municipality structure reform was dissolved just before the start of the new municipalities at the end of 2010.

    4. Sustainability (embedding in future activities)

      The municipality structure reform ‚GL 2011´: 3 strong municipalities – a more competitive canton’ reached the formal targets on 1.1.2011. The new municipalities Glarus north, Glarus and Glarus south started according to plan. The municipal executives were elected, the budgets for 2011 were approved and the administration has been running since the beginning of the year under the the new organisation. They are continually trying to optimize any synergy potential and during the course of the year substainable benefits will be made. The 3 municipalities have decided on a joint electronic presentation and to collaborate to have a collective archive. Sustainable and positive results can be seen in the town and country planning and in the education system. Further the electricity departments, the old peoples homes and nursing homes have been placed in the new municipalities.

      The chances for the canton Glarus have markedly improved in respect of the competitive situation regarding the location of industry and housing. The image of the Glarnerland in Switzerland had become more positive. The 3 new municipalities each have their individual strong attributes and are able to work on their own towards a successful future for themselves and their citizens. Moreover many further reforms were implemented mainly selfpropelled which increased the positive effectiveness. The municipal structural reform is positively acknowledged in the whole of Switzerland.

    5. Implementation

      On the one hand the municipalities were faced with the challenge of firstly overcoming the political and psychological hurdles and of creating a balanced and motivated team. Further the people in the militia were under enormous pressure in the short time available and this made it diffficult to adhere to the defined schedule.
      The co-operation between the canton and the municipalities was an exceptional endurance test. It was necessary to cultivate an open round of discussion as well as to develop mutual tolerance and trust in order to reach the goal.

      Clearly defined rules for the implementation

      It was a requirement for the successful implementation of the decisions taken at the citizen’s assembly and for these to be accepted by the citizens and the authorities, that the process should be clear and targets well defined.

      - project to be managed by the canton
      - social and welfare services to be taken over by the canton as from 1.1.2008, an issue for citizen’s assembly 2007.
      - Implementation by the muncipalities as from 1.1.2011
      - Taking advantage of the synergies and saving potential of 6 million Swiss Francs.
      - Leadership by the canton
      - Well defined terms with sufficient leeway for the municipalities
      - Maintaining the municipal autonomy as far as possible
      - Using the existing know how
      - Reduction in personnel which meets with social acceptance
      - No municipality should gain advantages at the cost of the other municipalities
      - Broad support in the fusion process and well anchored amongst the people
      - Putting the experience of previous fusions to use (Luchsingen and Haslen)
      - Involving the younger generations

      Social policy / principles for the municipal personnel

      The citizen’s assembly decision and the implementation of the municipial structural reform have far reaching consequences on the daily routine in the municipalities and in particular for the personnel.
      The prevailing uncertainty could be minimised because the canton and the municipalities agreed on a social policy. The municipalities and the canton agreed on the following social policy :

      The canton and the municipalities wish that there is continuity for their personnel in spite of the considerable repercussions due to the municipal structural reform. The reform process will inevitably bring with it immense changes for the personnel. The job requirements will be redefined as well job desciptions and job profiles.

      The municipal structural reform requires great flexibility and open-mindedness from all the people involved; this is especially important for personnel taking on new positions.

      The municipal structural reform will be as transparent as possible for all concerned. The guiding priciple is ‚fairness’. The canton and the municipalities see themselves as socialy-minded employers who are taking into consideration both the requirements for an efficient administration as well as the wishes of the personnel, especially those of the older, longstanding employees.

      Part-time jobs
      As far as the targets of the municipal structural reform allow and in accordance with principles for an efficient public administration, the canton and the municipalities should be able to offer part-time jobs. Full-time jobs can be divided into part-time jobs (job-sharing).

      Job exchange
      All the jobs in the 3 new municipalities can be found on an internet job site for employees in the respective municipality. Every present employee has to apply for one or more jobs. Employees who do not make an application, will have to expect that they will be given notice of the termination of their work contract. If an independent unit is to be totally integrated in the new municipal structure, then the admission to the job exchange is not necessary. Jobs that cannot be taken by the present employees will be published.

      Further employment
      The terms of employment will be standardised, a temporary arrangement will take into consideration the differences between the new and old terms of employment. There will be no probation period and past years of service will be taken into account.
      The aims of the temporary arrangement are fair but nevertheless a prompt gradual adjustment of the differences (in particular of the salaries) within a year of starting the new job.

      Termination of work contract / early retirement
      Should work contracts have to be terminated or early retirement enforced, then the following principles based on the present legislation should be adhered to:
      - The employees concerned should be informed in good time.
      - In certain cases the time span of the termination can be flexible
      - Continued payments and contributions towards out-placement consulting or retraining can be made in accordance to the present legislation.

      The public authority in the new municipality or in the canton is responsible for the appointments.

      Should there be any personal conflicts, uncertainties or mistrust on the part of personnel, there will be an ombudsmann available.

      Interim stage until 2010
      In the interim stage up to 31st December, 2010 appointments for newly vacated positions will not be made or only made for a limited time. Firstly internal interim solutions are to be found; if this is not possible then an external solution (collaborating with other municipalities, external mandates) is to be examined.

      Communication and information:
      The communication concept contains the following main issues :
      - The executive government has the overall responsibility for communication and information.
      - The executive government can delegate tasks regarding communication and information to the project management.
      - The executive government and the project management ‚canton’ and ‚municipalities’ aim for transparency in their policy for communication.
      - A culture of open communication is to be inwardly cultivated in the project management respectively between the project managements for ‚canton’ and ‚municipalities’ and the project groups ‚municipalities’. In order for this to be the case the people involved should be familiar with all the issues that are to be discussed and which require an extensive modification process. People who are not familiar with the issues can be partly or fully excluded from the process.
      - Further : normally there is no information issued on ‚work in progress’. An atmosphere must be established where ideas can be thought through and then dismissed.
      - The public will be informed with a media bulletin and at a media conference as soon as decisions and results are at hand. The executive government will make sure that the glarner media representatives are treated equally.

      Control of the whole project
      The volume and time restricted demanding structural reform process requires an intensive and diverse controlling in order to reach the proposed targets. This necessitated a strict controlling of the whole project as well as of the various smaller projects.

    6. Most important innovation

      Collective municipal archive
      The 3 municipalities decided together with the canton to team-up and establish a common archive. A service agreement was compiled between the 3 municipalities and the canton archive. One of the project groups worked to clarify any crossover points as well as rights, duties and procedures.The transfer of data and documents to the new municipalities is secured. In deciding on a mutual solution for the archive, the synergy and the potential for cost reduction were implemented.

      Collective electronic information system
      One of the most important bridges was crossed in Autumn 2009. The executive government and the municipalities decided on a collective electronic information system. This requires standard procedures including computer support . Responsible for the process model are representatives from the 3 new municipalities and the canton. In future all the departments of the new municipalities will use the same procedures to record and send the same data with the same software programme – from the resident control to the billing of fees and to the property registery, up to the financial administration and the administration of financial transactions. The same applies to the technical services and the old age and nursing homes. The expectations are high of the extensive new structure of the glarner IT organisation. The uniform work processes, standardised data and calculation models and low cost structures will save in the medium term annually between 500'000 and 1 million Swiss Francs. If the larger target is reached this would represent one sixth of the aspired savings. It is being looked into as to how the canton can also collaborate, but for the time being equipping the 3 new municipalities has top priority. The mutual issues such as the portal and the administration of financial transactions are tackled together. The differing issues will be dealt with independently but the solutions will be co-ordinated. The crossover points allow an unproblematic co-operation between canton and the municipalities. Canton Glarus is the first canton that works with such an efficient system.

      Joint transfer of the accounting in the canton and the municipalities to HRM2
      On the 1st January 2011 the canton and the municipalities changed together to the compatible accounting model (HRM2). The transition was purposely set for this date when the glarner municipalities in the course of the municipal structural reform finally became the 3 unified municipalities. Because the new glarner finance law was applicable to the canton as well as for the municipalities. Consequently the early transition to HRM2 meant that canton Glarus was a pioneer. All over Switzerland people were interested to hear about the experiences with the new accounting model. The expansive introduction of HRM2 brings distinctive advantages: that the canton as well as the municipalities are able to account and budget using the same system and process makes it easier to make comparisons. The financial and accounting sections have become more transparent. Also the requirements for cost declaration have risen :if costs are declared according to uniform requirements, then the conditions for a responsible distribution of public money are defined. In this way the electorate can make decisions on budgets and annual accounts in the knowledge of the true financial status and can see how and where their taxes are being spent.

    7. Information relevant to the theme

      In canton Glarus on the 1.1.2011 the merger took place of 25 policitical municipalities, 18 educational corporations, 16 social welfare corporations and 9 natural citizens corporations to 3 unified municipalities. With this act canton Glarus was able to streamline the structures of the municipalities and prepare itself for future challenges. This extensive reform work included a reform of the duties and of the finances and this allowed the public services and the financial channels to be optimized. At end of 2010 the project phase was finished with a concluding report. On 1st January, 2011 the 3 new municipalities officially ‚started up’. On this day the prevailing civil rights were passed onto the new municipality. In this way the citizens of Niederurnen became citizens of Glarus north, a citizen of Schwanden became a citizen of Glarus south and the official home town of Ennenda now belongs to the municipality Glarus. The municipality Glarus south is made up of two valleys and is the municipality which covers the largest area in Switzerland.

    8. results

      With the creation of the 3 large unified municipalities and the integration of the social and welfare services into the canton administration, the aims of the structural reform were fulfilled in respect of form and of structure. The structure of the municipalities was optimized ; provisions were made for a more efficient, professional and accessible structure. The following has been achieved : 

      - The social and welfare services have been under the administration of the canton since 2008. 19 social welfare corporations, 23 social corporations and 19 independent guardianship councils have been dissolved. The social services have all become more professional. The costs are on a level with those from 2008.

      - The municipalities and the canton have a uniform financial administration law by decree. It is now possible to compare the accounts. This is pioneer work in Switzerland. 

      - A further pioneer work : from 1st January, 2011 the new compatible accounting system 2 (HRM2) is in use. With this system the accounting is more revealing and informative.

      - The 3 new strong municipalities started on schedule on 1st January, 2011. The foundation was laid for this law at the citizen’s assembly in 2008. The elections showed that seats on the municipality councils were attractive and in all 3 municipalities there were busy election campaigns. There was also a battle for the seats in the Glarus north parliament. It was obvious that working for the authorities had become more attractive.

      - The municipal structural reform allows the municipalities more autonomy which is visible in a variety of ways, the most obvious being in the completely different organisational forms. Glarus north has a council and a municipal government, Glarus has a council and a citizen’s assembly, Glarus south has a council, 5 departments and a citizen’s assembly.

      - It was not possible to adhere to the stipulated benchmarks in regard to personnel. In Glarus north they were markedly and in Glarus and Glarus south slightly overreached.

      -The municipalities will continue to optimize the use of synergies and in the course of time reap the benefits of the economic measures.

      - The educational body has been integrated into the unified municipalities. Further the base has been founded for the implementation of the ‚harmos’ and the concept for educational special needs.

      - The old peoples and nursing homes are in all 3 municipalities under the same management. Further they are now all independent public institutions.

      - All the municipalities have changed their technical facility works into independent public organisations. The complex act of uniting the works happened within the agreed time limit and in accordance with the requirements of the new law for the electricity supply.

      - The fire brigade organisation is based on the project ‚fire brigade futura’. All 3 fire brigades are well established and the transition was made without any disruptions.

      - The stipulations for the reform of the corporations have been formulated. The municipalities will decide on this at the end of 2011 or later.

      - The requirements for the town and country planning concept for the canton are based on the law passed at the citizen’s assembly in 2010 on area development and building. Both of these planning bodies, canton and municipal will take up their work in the first quarter of 2011 and will take the promising opportunity to start work on a new planning policy.

      - The personnel in the new municipalities was employed within the agreed time limit. The process of taking on employees was open and fair. There were few cases of hardship. The ombudsman praised the professional handling.

      - The new financial compensation law, with compensation for resources and deficits will bolster the financial reforms.

      - For the canton and the municipalities the organisation of procedures and of the electronic information system will be supported by a mutual electronic information platform. This is a further pioneer act that has contributed to the success of the financial reform. The migration of data is working well and the IT in the 3 new municipalities is functioning.

      - The municipalities and the canton will probably manage their archives together. This will also raise the level of efficiency.