Merger plans for municipalities in Pays-d'Enhaut: Château-d’Oex, Rossinière and Rougemont

Mon, 03. May. 2021
Merger plans are in the air: the municipalities of Rossinière, Château-d'Oex and Rougemont from a winter hot-air balloon perspective. (Photograph: ©2019 Dominique Schreckling)

The Journal du Pays-d'Enhaut, on 1 April of all days, reported that the municipalities in the Pays-d'Enhaut are planning a merger. I wonder if this is a joke? The presidents of the municipalities of Pays-d'Enhaut provide the information.

"The merger plans are by no means an April Fool joke," Eric Grandjean, president of the municipality of Château-d'Oex, answers with a laugh. According to the presidents of the three municipalities in the Pays-d'Enhaut, the subject of a merger has been on the table for some time. While the municipal legislatures of Château-d'Oex and Rossinière recently decided to engage in a preliminary study for the merger project, the municipal council of Rougemont rejected this.

The advantages of a merger are obvious to Grandjean and the president of Rossinière, Jean-Pierre Neff.

The municipalities already cooperate in practically all areas such as schools, civil defence, fire brigades, health, economy, tourism and much more. They, therefore, see no point in keeping separate administrations. They further argue that a large municipality has a stronger financial weight within the canton. There would also be savings that could be better used to develop the region. 

"A cantonal advisor is involved in the merger negotiations, may well take four to five years," says Grandjean. "In the end, the municipal legislatures and the population will have to vote on it."

Both municipal presidents regret that Rougemont is unwilling to participate in this process and hope that this decision is not definitive.

Rougemont wants to remain independent
André Reichenbach, president of the municipality of Rougemont, says that the new municipal council, which will be elected in July this year, will probably not differ from the current opinion. "As long as the municipality has the capacity and the financial means, Rougemont will remain independent," Reichenbach is convinced.

"It is a big plus for the municipal administration to be in direct contact with the population. This would be lost with a merger," he emphasises. Reichenbach also fears that Rougemont could lose its identity within a large municipality. Rougemont has its own social life, maintains contacts with the canton of Bern and is connected to the Destination Gstaad ski area via the Videmanette.

He admits that a merger certainly has some potential, but he is convinced that there is no reason to change the existing, well-functioning cooperation with Château-d'Oex and Rossinière.

As far as the stronger financial position within the canton is concerned, Reichenbach thinks that three municipalities have greater weight than a single large one. "Moreover, we would have to reckon with higher taxes in the event of a merger since we have the lowest tax rate of the three municipalities. And that, in turn, could lead to some residents leaving our village," Reichenbach fears.

All three presidents affirm that the municipalities will continue their close cooperation, regardless of how the merger plans develop. A merger would also not change much in terms of the contributions to the cable cars in Saanenland and the indoor swimming pool and the good neighbourly cooperation.

There is no information yet about the possible name of the new municipality. There is also no answer to whether the crane will remain in the coat of arms ...

Based on AvS/Martin Gurtner-Duperrex



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