Toys, Taxes and Torture at the Town Council

The town council meeting on Thursday, 21st November, 2013, was always going to be centred around the budget for the forthcoming year.  But with the debate lasting over two hours, each of the parties was determined to have their say.

It was Councillor Markus Bürgel who kicked off the debate for the CDU, noting that Oberursel had reached the point where savings could no longer be made without the effects being visible.  He was critical of the national government in Berlin for taking decisions that the local level then has to pay for, without providing any means of financing them, although he was quick to point out that in the last 15 years almost all national parties had taken part in those decisions.

He commented that savings on services that fall in the “social” area where difficult to make, but that if there was no other option the voluntary services in this area would fall foul of the spending cuts.  He called these services the “head of the social department’s toys” (Spielzeuge des Sozialdezernenten)! [Read more…]

From the town council: Swimming, Sewage, the Station, and the Saga of the Bärenkreuzung

The last meeting of the town council in Oberursel was a long, drawn out affair, which even prompted Mayor Hans-Georg Brum to refer to part of the debate as a “Gebetsmühle” – literally a “prayer wheel”, ie. a discussion that was taking a long time and going round in circles.

It was also the point in the council year for treasurer Thorsten Schorr to make his annual budget speech, the debate on which was deferred to a later date after the Bürgerversammlung about the proposed savings.

Part of that budget may have played a role in the OBG asking what the pre-requisites are for town employees taking on committee roles in charities such as the Förderverein Taunabad during their work time and whether this was not something that the town was doing voluntarily and hence should possibly be reduced or stopped altogether under the budget constraints. [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…]

Who says that we can’t afford a swimming pool?

The Bürgerversammlung about the new swimming pool last week appears to have a lasting effect on many in Oberursel, because in the space of just a few days the political landscape in the town has changed dramatically.

Let me try and explain the past few years in simple terms first:

1. The indoor pool in the town was closed because the roof was deemed unstable.

2. The coalition of CDU and FDP wanted to sell of a sports field (Altkönigsportplatz) and the swimming pool car park to finance a new building, and an architect came up with a design to include a sauna and modernise the outside pool at the same time.

3. At the town parliament elections last year, the SPD, Green party and OBG were all behind the swimming pool, but did not want to sell of the sports field, and although the CDU remained the largest party in the parliament, the SPD/Green/OBG coalition gained a majority.

4. SPD/Green/OBG drew up a coalition agreement that they would build a new swimming pool, but would borrow at most only 20% of the capital needed to do so and would not sell of the sports field.

5. It was then decided just to build a new indoor pool and leave space for a sauna, moving work on the outdoor pool to a later date.

6. Planning permission was given, changes to Bebauungspläne were approved, and companies started giving quotes on the cost of actually building it.

7. A few weeks ago they even held a press conference to announce that building work would be starting soon.

You could say that everything was going swimmingly, until the town’s treasurer explained why the town could not afford to build it. [Read more…]

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