Why Oberursel’s Hessentag deficit is larger than expected

The big wheel at Oberusel's station

Last year the Hessentag in Oberursel took up quite a bit of the town’s resources and also was covered quite extensively on this blog.

Today the day arrived when one of the key questions after the event was answered: “how much did it all cost?”, or to be more precise – how big was the loss that the town’s finances have been left with.

The original budget was for a loss of 3½ million Euro.  In the end, it turned out to be 4½ million.  An addition €836,000 were spent by the town’s own service department (BSO) and €503,000 on personnel costs.  However these are not included in the deficit as to a certain extent they would have been spent anyway on the normal day-to-day running of services in the town.

So what went wrong?

Well, not so much it would appear.  In fact, you might almost say that too much went right.

For a start there were the record amount of visitors to the event – almost 1.4 million people visited the town during the 10 days.  And they liked what they saw, because in a representative survey of them 30% said they found it “very good” and a further 56% “good”.

The Adenauerallee in Oberursel on Whit Monday during the HessentagBut more people meant more security and more cleaning, without more income to compensate.  At least for the moment.  Any additional income ended up with the local hotels, restaurants and of course the stand holders.  It remains to be seen whether this means an increase in corporate income tax for the town.

Then there was the “green” factor.  Oberursel wanted to be the first carbon-neutral Hessentag and urged people to come by public transport.  The message obviously got through because only 64,300 cars turned up, meaning that there were no long queues and the parking spaces were never full.  But the spaces were still set up, and the people running them still had to be paid.

And with all those extra people coming by train, additional security was brought in to make sure that the crossings were safe and that the tunnel at the main station didn’t get over-filled causing a crush.  In the areas where the track is not normally enclosed, such as level crossings, there was one security guard per metre of track!

However the deficit of 4½ million Euro should be seen against the level of investment that has taken place in the town in the last couple of yours.  The town’s mayor estimates that the changes that took place in the last 2 years would have taken between 10 and 12 otherwise.

These are investments in infrastructure like the modernised U-Bahn stations and the restored railway station.  The town received grants from local government worth 12 million Euro, who also spent a further 9 million Euro on a new sports hall at one of the primary schools and 3.5 million Euro on the Taunus Information Centre.

The Hessentag, along with these investments has apparently led to Oberursel’s image improving in the local area, and there has been an increase in both people and businesses looking to re-locate to the town.

Taking all of this into account, Oberursel’s mayor, Hans-Georg Brum, concluded today that he would always be prepared to hold the Hessentag here again… but only after a “Verschnaufpause.


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About Graham

Graham Tappenden is a British ex-pat who first came to Germany as a placement student in 1993, returning in 1995 to live there permanently. He has been writing for AllThingsGerman.net since 2006. When not writing blog posts or freelancing for the Oberurseler Woche and other publications he works as a self-employed IT consultant solving computer problems and designing websites. In 2016 he gained German citizenship.

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