Why Oberursel needs to have a culture of making savings

Oberursel’s town council may have approved the 2013 budget last December, including a range of tax increases and cuts in services, but the council obviously does not have the last say in the matter, because since then the town has been waiting for it to be approved by local government regulators.

That approval arrived last week and allows the town to move forward on projects such as the new traffic lights for the Frankfurter Landstraße.  But it is coupled with a series of restrictions in place not only for the current year, but for future budgets as well.

It is expected that the town:

  • makes savings of €700,000 in 2013 in addition to those already planned
  • finds ways of making additional savings or creating additional income to reduce the €11 million per year deficit
  • produce a balanced budget starting in 2016

And how?  Announcing the restrictions, treasurer Thorsten Schorr was quick to point out that in order to save that amount of money, the town must consider raising taxes and other charges, as well as closing some institutions.  Investments are only permitted for things where the town has a legal obligation to fulfill.

An exception to the rule is the new swimming pool building, for which funding was already approved by way of the sale of pieces of land.  However, the town’s councillors need not think that they can repeat that with other projects.  “There can be no more discussion about building projects for services provided on a voluntary basis” Thorsten Schorr told the finance sub-committee, and said that this limited the workings of the town in a way that has never been experienced previously.

The town is already beginning to feel the pinch of measures agreed at the end of last year, with the budget for the annual open-air theatre reduced, the “Kulturbühne” (culture stage) cancelled for the foreseeable future, the number of toilets reduced at the “Brunnenfest” (fountain festival), increased changes for the stands at the wine festival, and probably less stands at the Christmas market.  Organisations wishing to use the Stadthalle will in future either have to apply for a subsidy or pay the entire rent themselves.

Perhaps most interesting for some readers of this website is the reduction of town twinning activities, a reduction of costs for those that take place, and an increase in the proportion of the costs that the individuals taking part are required to meet.

Finding ways of making those additional savings will no doubt lead to some very interesting debates in the coming months.

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.

Comments

  1. We have similar spending restriction for the Twinning Association of Rushmoor (TAR). There are no more grants and we must fund raise for all our activities especially for young people; they are our No1 priority. TAR members will be visiting this year for the Brunnenfest and Weinfest and hopefully for Weihnachtsmarkt if the same venue is available.

    Frank

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