Four district councils have been selected for a pilot scheme to help manage regional facilities because of their political diversity, officials say. From January, councillors from Sai Kung, Wan Chai, Wong Tai Sin and Tuen Mun will be the first to be given a say on how to run libraries, community halls, leisure grounds, swimming pools and beaches. However, the Sham Shui Po District Council - dominated by the Association for Democracy and People's Livelihood and the Democratic Party - was not selected despite asking to take part. Secretary for Home Affairs Patrick Ho Chi-ping said the four councils in the pilot scheme were chosen because of location, range of facilities and political composition. 'We hope to demonstrate that different political interests in the council can still come up with feasible management plans,' he said. Permanent Secretary for Home Affairs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said: 'This will give the councillors an opportunity to make political exchanges or compromises. We can see whether the parties in a council will work out good plans or just keep arguing about different ideas.' Mrs Lam also hoped the scheme would encourage talent to contest district council polls next year. Under the plan approved by the Executive Council on Tuesday, all 18 district councils will get greater management power from 2008. The councils will form management committees to operate nearly 1,700 district facilities, including libraries, swimming pools and halls. Government departments will follow councils' decisions within the limits of their statutory powers and resources.A tertiary institution will be appointed later to study the pilot scheme's effectiveness.The move will cost taxpayers HK$350 million a year. The new funding will cover extra resources for minor works projects, as well as increases in councillors' payments and office expenses. Each council in the pilot scheme will get $3 million extra funding for community projects. A further $20 million has been earmarked for minor works. The operating expenses for councillors in all 18 districts will increase by 10 per cent, to $18,000, from January. Members will also be entitled to a new allowance of up to $70,000 to close their office when they step down. Starting from 2008, honorariums for councillors will rise from $17,040 to $18,700. Most district council chairmen welcomed the scheme yesterday. Tuen Mun council chairman Lau Wong-fat said the decisions were welcomed by the 18 councils.Wong Tai Sin district council chairman Wong Kam-chi said he understood that in the future the district officer would mediate disputes between the council and government departments.