Making savings… and talking about it

Two days after the Oberursel’s finance committee voted on the 53 proposals to amend the town’s budget for 2013, the town council sat to actually vote on the budget, with those amendments in place.

Despite the fact that all the points had been discussed individually at the finance committee, the parties took it in turn to make a speech and put forward their view on the budget and the current situation in terms of the town’s finances.

In some cases they went through those amendments – even those that had been turned town – point for point, sometimes with even their own party members showing a distinct lack of interest.

However it was also a chance to criticise the other parties on the council, especially as some had apparently missed a deadline to submit proposals for savings leading to suggestions that maybe they had been waiting to see what the others came up with, something that was strongly denied.

Here are some quotes from those speeches:

Markus Bürgel, CDU

“[The Budget] is a chance to create new structures, to discuss new ideas.  CDU, SPD and the Green party have used this opportunity.”

“Politicians cannot shy away, but must give clear answers.”

“The administration is often criticised for being bureaucratic, but this is often put upon them by laws at ‘Land’ and National levels”

“Some things cannot be done, but at some point even the last street needs re-doing.”

Dr. Eggert Winter, SPD

“The situation is serious.”

“The budget tanker needs to be brought into calm waters.”

“Let us do what we can, but let us not be pressured by lawmakers who do not see the consequences [of their actions].”

“We cannot accept it as read, that personnel costs will rise every year.”

Wolfgang Schmitt, Green Party

“It is unusual for a budget to be passed by such a large majority.”

“[We should] not ask who decided something in the past, because almost all parliamentary groups were in a majority at some time.  The milk is spilt and we have to be forward looking.”

“The citizens have to ask themselves 3 questions: where are we prepared to pay more, what a we prepared to do without, what services can be offered by others?”

“Part of the attraction of a town is how debt free it is, not just what it has to offer.”

Robert Rethfeld, OBG

“The situation is not comparable to Greece, it is worse!”

“The town wants to spend more than it earns.”

“The [planned] savings for 2012 were not met, how can we trust [the plan for] 2013?”

Referring to the cuts in the culture budget, culture being referred to as a “holy cow”, ie. untouchable: “The FDP wants to take away a leg, the coalition orders food for 5 cows less and leaves the cows to sort it out amongst themselves.  The temperature gets raised by 15% and they have to sweat it out”.

Referring to the majority of votes that the CDU, SPD and Green Party controlled: “35 out of 45 votes is almost a people’s chamber majority” (orig.: Volkskammermehrheit)

Rainer Voß, FDP

“Where are the new jobs in the town hall, apart from in child care?”

“The luxury liner swimming pool is now only a tug boat” (referring to the lack of a sauna).  “The income from the sauna would have paid for part of the deficit.”

“Not enough is being saved, the number of jobs [in the town hall] is too high.”

Ingmar Schlegel, Die Linke

“It was not easy to decide on the budget.”

“The OBG suggestions for the dog tax correspond with my ideas, because they make allowance for the socially weak and also support the animals’ home.”

“Voluntary dedication should be supported.”

“I see the budget as a good compromise and want to support it.”

In the end when the vote was taken it was pretty much the same story as it had been at the finance committee, with the OBG and FDP members voting against the budget, with all of the other councillors voting in favour, leaving the town with a budget in place but still with plenty of savings to be found in order to get it balanced.

About Graham Tappenden

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Oberursel in 1993 and returned with his family to live there in 2003. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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