On November 21, during a municipal council organized simultaneously in Hasselt and Kortessem, the merger between the two will be officially finalized. “And that new city will be called… Hasselt,” Mayor Steven Vandeput (N-VA) announced on Friday. Today the municipal councilors will also receive a comprehensive merger plan of 44 pages that will be rolled out from November 22.
In April, the municipal councils of Kortessem and Hasselt already gave their approval to prepare the merger. Behind the scenes, a lot of hard work has been done on this in recent months, politically, but especially by civil servants. “I am proud that we have taken matters into our own hands. Because external consultants are often hired for this purpose,” said Steven Vandeput (N-VA). “The merger should be a fact before the clock strikes twelve on November 21.”
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“We don’t do this for the money, I want to emphasize that. Many municipalities opt for a merger out of financial necessity. Not us, we opt for a strong city that can provide even better and decisive services,” described Mayor Tom Thijsen (CD&V), mayor of Kortessem. “The best collaboration is a merger, that’s what the experts say. All ‘inter-municipal partnerships’ do not always have the hoped-for results, despite the efforts put into them.”
Both mayors insisted that the ‘simple’ services will remain available in the Kortessem town hall: driving licenses, passports, change of residence, etc. Both Thijsen and Vandeput want to dispel the fear in Kortessem that this would disappear. “The merger will enrich Hasselt and Kortessem: we will become a city with 3 libraries, 2 toy libraries and 2 bicycle libraries. We also have a huge offer in terms of tourism. Hasselt is known as an experience city, with lots of culture and events. We had Herkenrode on one side and now we get the gate of Haspengouw. A combination of the Burgundian city life and the quiet outdoor life.”
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They are not doing it for financial reasons, but financially the merger does mean something: the Flemish government will cancel the debts of municipalities that voluntarily merge, which means that Hasselt will receive an additional 2 million every year for the next 20 years to to invest.
Before the municipal councils of November 21, the two will hold an information market for all residents in Kortessem on November 18 in cc Mozaïek. “We will answer all questions there.”
READ ALSO. Residents of Kortessem and Hasselt respond to merger: “Is the Grote Markt now moving to Wimmertingen?”