The village of Čičmany has fallen victim to its own popularity. The representatives of the municipality known for its traditional architecture and houses painted with distinctive, white folk markings struggle to secure the basic operations of the village and pay the bills.
The village situated in the Strážovské Vrchy mountains in Žilina Region is gradually dying out and is counting every single euro. It receives some €2,500 a month from a share of income taxes paid by individuals. It is hard for the municipal authority to pay for the disposal of waste generated mostly by one-day visitors. It is also necessary to mow grass, keep the place clean and plant flowers.
On top of that, the money in the municipal budget needs to cover the salary of the mayor, the municipal economist and registrar (who is one person), plus the serviceman and controller.
About 30,000 tourists come to Čičmany every year, according to Mayor Iveta Michalíková. To ensure their visit is a pleasant one, a lot of work needs to be done.
“The size of our village is big, so there’s a lot of mowing and in winter, we have to clear away snow; these are quite big expenses for us,” she said, adding they also have to plant flowers on benches and by bus stops, and keep the village tidy.
Tourists are a burden
The monthly income from taxes only covers a third of the costs; this means even the basic operation of the village is not covered.
“The biggest problem in Čičmany is the drop in the number of inhabitants, and thus low taxes,” Michalíková said. “It makes me very sad and, unfortunately, we might see the same fate as Vlkolínec [which is also dying out with only a few regular inhabitants – ed. note]. It is the question of the decade. As for the village, it’s possible we’ll have to merge with another municipality in the future.”