The powiat [ ˈpɔvʲat ], in the plural powiaty , is a territorial administrative unit of the second level of local self-government in Poland . The Polish term powiat literally means circle . In terms of area, the powiat corresponds to the district within the German municipal self-government and lies in the administrative hierarchy below the voivodeship ( województwo ) and above the municipality ( Gmina ). On average, voivodeships have 20 powiate, each made up of 5 to 15 parishes.
The powiate were dissolved in 1975, but reintroduced as part of an administrative reform on January 1, 1999, when the number of voivodships was reduced from 49 to 16. In 2014 there were 380 powiate in Poland, including 314 so-called rural districts ( powiat ziemski ) and 66 urban districts ( miasto na prawach powiatu ).
Organization and tasks
There are administrative differences between a powiat and the German district. At Powiat, responsibilities are assigned as follows:
- Legislative : District Assembly ( rada powiatu ). The literal translation “Council of the district” for “Rada Powiatu” can lead to misunderstandings; the " Council of the District " was an administrative body in the GDR.
- Executive : district executive ( zarząd powiatu ) with its chairman, the district administrator ( starosta ) and district office subordinate to it ( starostwo powiatowe ), above that also district secretary ( sekretarz powiatu ) and district treasurer ( skarbnik powiatu ). The executive authorities are elected by the county council.
The district council is convened by the residents of the district in general elections (with four-year terms).
The district councilor and district board perform the administrative tasks of the district and are convened by the district council. The district administrator is usually not the chairman of the district council.
The districts only take on the tasks that cannot be fulfilled by the municipalities as the actual local self-government and which are explicitly assigned to them as self-government tasks by law. In this respect, they are probably comparable with the offices or administrative communities in Thuringia .
Cities with Powiat rights ( miasta na prawach powiatu ) are the municipalities that also perform the tasks of the districts. Colloquially and also in law , they are called urban districts ( powiat grodzki ) .
For example, Elbląg ( Elbing ) forms its own urban district and does not belong to the Powiat Elbląski ( Powiat Elbing ). The area around the city belongs to the powiat as an independent rural municipality of Elbląg .
The history of the powiate dates back to the 14th century. The word powiat is derived from the Lithuanian powĕta (from wĕta , ancient for city). The Vilna Voivodeship, which was dissolved in 1795, was divided into five powiate ( districts ). At the beginning of the 19th century, the voivodships were much larger than they are today and comprised only two to five powiate.
The Polish term powiat was translated as district in the 19th century .
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