Oberursel’s No-Win Financial Situation

It can’t be easy being in charge of Oberursel’s finances.  After two rounds of spending cuts and tax increases, the town’s budget could budget could be in the black to the tune of around €4.5 million after a sudden windfall of corporate income tax (Gewerbesteuer) and further cuts in the culture department.

That is, it would be if the next higher level of government – the Kreis – had not increased the amount that the town has to pay for their services, including the school, by almost  €11 million for the coming year, leaving with the town with a deficit in 2014 of just over €6 million.

So once again the town called a meeting of its residents to discuss the next round of savings, holding it this year in the Burgwiesenhalle in Bommersheim.  The hall may not have been full – around 160 people turned up – but there were a significant number of children and teenagers present to protest against the planned cuts in funding for the “Jugendtreffs” in Weißkirchen and Stierstadt. [Read more…]

Discuss the town budget in Bommersheim

A “Bürgerversammlung” is being held in the Burgwiesenhalle in Bommersheim on Wednesday, 30th October, 2013 at 7pm to discuss the new town budget.

Residents will have the chance to find out what is planned in the 2014 budget and ask any questions that they have about it.

How Oberursel wants to save money on culture

It is no secret that Oberursel needs to save money in order to balance its books, and the culture budget was already reduced in 2013.

Now the town is making plans on how to save even more money in 2014.

In fact, they want to save at least an additional €100,000, so to do this the town’s social and cultural committee along with the charity responsible for organising or sponsoring many of the events (KSfO) have been trying to find a way of reducing the amount the spend by either finding sponsors for events, making them smaller or cancelling them altogether. [Read more…]

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: [Read more…]

OBG says sauna would pose a risk for the town’s finances

Local political group the OBG do not belive that adding a sauna to the new indoor swimming pool would make financial sense, as they claim it would cost more to build and run than it would make in revenue.  In fact, the leader of their parliamentary group Georg Braun says that this has been clear to them since the summer of 2011.

According to an expert opinion, the income from a sauna would cover the running costs, but not when the cost of building it is added to the equation.  Georg Braun was quoted as asking “What use would the higher revenue be, if the investment costs are not covered?”

The OBG went into the pedestrian area of the town on Saturday morning, and reported that in many of their conversations with passers-by the people of the town are confused by what they call the “half truths” of the sauna supporters.  They also warn that if the sauna were to make a loss, then the taxpayer would have to pick up the bill. [Read more…]

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: [Read more…]

Making sense of the town’s budget

Having gone through one of the party’s suggestions for the town budget on Monday afternoon, on Tuesday evening the suggestions of the other parties in the town council came to light when the finance committee met to discuss and vote on them.

As the OBG, whose suggestions I had outlined here on the site, only have 2 of the 14 seats on the committee, most of their proposals ended up getting voted down by 2 votes to 12.

In some cases, the coalition of CDU, SPD and the Green Party had their own suggestions that contradicted them, and their 11 votes carried the motions.  The FDP with one vote did not have much influence on the proceedings, and at one point their member on the committee even voted against their own proposal.

So what remains for the town council to approve after the marathon session with 53 proposed ammendments? [Read more…]

16 ways to save money

It’s crunch time this week in Oberursel, as first the finance committee and then the town council meet to approve the budget for 2013a budget with a deficit.

Over the past few weeks, the politicians in the town have been challenged to come up with ideas on how to save money as part of the “Haushaltssicherungskonzept” (the concept to balance the books), and there have also been discussions going on both on the town’s website and in Facebook.  These can have far-reaching consequences for the coming years in the town, as some savings may not be possible straight away.

So what suggestions did the politicians come up with?  Well yesterday the OBG – a local political group – put forward their suggestions, and in total they are proposing 26 amendments to the budgets, which I have grouped together here in 16 different points.

They are: [Read more…]

Ask the people what they want!

Last month in Oberursel the draft version of the town’s budget for the year 2013 was published, including the details of how it will need to spend more than it earns in taxes and other fees.

It is clear that savings need to be made and a “Haushaltssicherungskonzept” needs to be developed.  But where can the town raise taxes or cut services without alienating the population?

That is probably one of the most difficult questions that a town administration faces, so maybe that is the reason why – for the first time – the town’s residents where invited to a “Bürgerversammlung” at the town hall to discuss precisely that. [Read more…]

Discuss the town budget at the town hall

A “Bürgerversammlung” is being held in the town hall (Rathaus) on Wednesday, 31st October, 2012 at 8pm to discuss the new town budget.

Residents will have the chance to find out what is planned in the 2013 budget and ask any questions that they have about it.

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