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?

1. Increase land owners’ tax (“Grundsteuer B”) from 300% to 375% in 2014, and then to 450% in 2016.

2. Increase the agricultural land tax (“Grundsteuer A”) from 200% to 300% in 2013 and to 375% in 2015.

3. Close the town hall canteen.

4. Stop the voluntary pension advice given by the town hall and only offer the services that the town is obliged to.

5. Reduce the amount of money available for a vehicle for the town’s fire inspector.

6. Cancel the purchase of a new multi-functional vehicle (“Wechselladerfahrzeug”) for the fire brigade.

7. Reduce the amount of money available for cultural events, without actually specifying which events are to be scaled down, cut, or otherwise re-structured with volunteers.

8. Reduce the amount of money available for youth work.

9. Transfer responsibility for the care of the sports fields in the town to the clubs that use them.

10. Reduce the amount spent on planning and assessors.

11. Adjust the planned income from building inspections to reflect the expected amount.

12. Reduce the amount spent on signs for cycle paths.

13. Cancel the planned work on the traffic lights at the junction of the Lahnstraße and Dornbachstraße.

14. Reduce the amount available for nature and landscaping work.

The committee also recommends placing restrictions on several items of expenditure, so that they will have to be approved by the committee at some time in the future.

They also made recommendations for the personnel situation, and although only one position will actually cut, restrictions will be put in place as to how vacancies may be filled, although these are slightly less stringent for childcare positions.

The town’s executive also has proposals regarding dangerous dogs, the car park at the Taunus Information Centre, money given to support sports clubs and charities, income from hunting and fishing, the mobile library and the amount allocated to the political parties to carry out their work.

Meanwhile, and in particular the day after the committee meeting, the discussion on Facebook has been going in earnest.  At the time of writing, the group has 218 members, and although the number of active contributors is much less many of the topics are getting between 60 and 70 people reading them.

The group is particularly interesting, as the discussions are going on between members of the public, the town’s executive, and the town council, although some of the political parties are more active than others.  These discussions really go into some detail as well, down to individual items in the 1,060 page draft budget.

I just hope that those taking part go back to the other members of their parties and give them some feedback from it all before the council meeting this evening!


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 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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