City finances: Essen’s city budget: More money for climate, toilets and crime

Essen’s city finances are sewn on edge. Nevertheless, the black-green council alliance plans to spend more in 2022. Where the money should end up.

A bunch of big plans and only a tiny plus in the till – this is not necessarily the best starting position to pour out a cornucopia of new blessings on the city and its citizens in the coming year. A little something is always possible, thinks the black-green council coalition, and for the first time in years the CDU and the Greens want to reallocate millions of euros in city finances. No, everyone asserts, “There are no fun projects”.

Instead, an attempt is being made to set a few priorities on sensitive policy areas in the next year: above all in terms of climate and the long-running discussion about public toilets, in terms of culture and in the fight against crime, or better: people’s sense of personal security.

Another six more positions for the urban order patrol

Some of what is now to be anchored in the city budget with a total of 23 new full-time positions in the city administration and material resources in the order of a good six million euros has already been decided in the past few months, others have been announced or at least hinted at, but “We don’t just want to produce headlines,” assures Fabian Schrumpf, CDU member of the state parliament and head of the 30 Christian Democrats in the council. “Make it clear where we want to go,” is what his green counterpart, Hiltrud Schmutzler-Jäger, calls it.

There are more people afterwards, especially in the municipal security service, whose patrol team is to be increased by six more positions. Six positions will also be set up to enable immediate measures from the city’s action plan for sustainable energy and climate (“Secap”). In addition, there are two posts for school social work, two for outreach social work (“street work”) also in the city districts and two posts to clear away the tiresome debate about public toilets and grill areas as well as inner-city issues.

The personnel budget increases with the plans by one million euros annually

Finally, a position is to be created for the city archeology and the crime prevention council, for the promotion of the cultural and creative industries and the city trees and – last but not least – for the planned concept for climate adaptation. All in all, the additional staff is likely to generate costs of around one million euros year after year.

In addition, there are around six million euros in material resources: Almost a million of these are reserved to ensure the construction and operation of public toilets and also to test the controversial grill areas. A further 730,000 euros are being used to streamline planning and construction projects or to continue them, for example with the help of the state-owned development company NRW.URBAN or private planning offices.

Renovated bike paths, a graffiti task force and grants for social projects

In order to eliminate frost damage on bike paths, the budget item is increased by 360,000 euros, 425,000 euros are to be made available to a graffiti task force so that it can quickly remove illegal wall graffiti, and with 500,000 euros the “Corona Special Fund for Culture” is to provide the free Being able to further promote the art and culture scene.

Subsidies are also increased for social purposes: Almost 600,000 euros go to the welfare associations for educational counseling, crime prevention and district caretakers, a further 230,000 euros go to facilities such as the Forum Billebrinkhöhe, the working group for the self-help of people with disabilities, the Café Basis or the women’s advice center Distel to secure. In addition to the newly created staff, a good one million euros are available for climate use, which are reserved for the participation campaign “Eating climate-neutral”, but also for energy-efficient district concepts and other projects. A grant of 50,000 euros has also been earmarked for cargo bikes.

Black-Green sees “no scope to lower taxes”

The concern of the city’s chief financial officer, Gerhard Grabenkamp, ​​that the local actors could “lull themselves into a false sense of security and believe that they can draw on the full”, believe the CDU and the Greens to have taken away in their application: the amount of almost eight million euros compared to the budget -Draft lower surcharge for the Rhineland Regional Association scooped up funds as well as the lower interest expense for investment loans. In the end, it is said, the numbers remained in the black.

Not black enough, however, to lower property or trade taxes, as the FDP demands: There is no scope to lower the tax rates, nor the need to increase them. As expected, the two sides do not reveal which budget decisions will not be presented on this Friday because the CDU and the Greens could not agree in advance.

Just this much: you came to Potte faster than you originally thought. “We are interested in pragmatic solutions,” is the reason given. And at the city level it has always been “less ideological”: “This is a specialty in Essen that we want to preserve.”

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