Bonn problem project Beethovenhalle again in the black book of wasted taxpayers’ money
Bonn · The Taxpayers' Association has presented its Black Book 2022. It includes criticism of the modernisation of the Beethovenhalle. The architectural heritage site in Bonn is thus once again in the headlines nationwide.
Just like last year, the Beethovenhalle has once again landed in the Taxpayers' Association's Black Book. Under the title "public squandering", the federal association lists numerous examples of sloppy use of taxpayers' money throughout Germany. The annual black book is being published for the 50th time.
For years, the Association has regularly taken aim at Bonn’s famous glitch project - because the costs keep rising and construction keeps getting delayed. "The Beethovenhalle is a bottomless pit," the association writes in its new report. And: "The incomplete planning makes the renovation a kind of lucky dip, which could still hold many a nasty surprise".
When the Black Book was published last year, the cost forecast for the architectural monument was still 162.3 million euros - instead of the 61.5 million originally planned. In the meantime, however, the indicator on the cost clock is already pointing to around 197 million euros. In the city's draft resolutions, this sum is referred to as the "best-case scenario". So it is likely to get even more expensive.
This assumption is shared by interim project manager Steffen Göbel believes, who was brought into help. The head of the consulting firm Berliner Häuser Baumanagement GmbH is supposed to get the faltering redevelopment, which has been underway since 2016, back on track. He wants to present a proposal for the total costs and completion date by the end of the year. Summer 2025, the last date mentioned by the city, is no longer realistic. The work stoppage of the Beethovenhalle architects seems to be continuing. In September, the city reported "advanced negotiations" in the fee dispute with Nieto Sobejano Arquitectos. Since then, however, nothing more has been heard from the press office.
Wednesday’s black book contains ten further NTW cases that the taxpayers' association classifies as wasteful. The association calls on the legislature to introduce a new criminal offence of "budget fraud". "Even blatant cases cannot be punished under criminal law," said NRW state chair Erik Steinheuer. In addition to poor planning of construction projects, funding programmes in which municipalities only bear a small share of the costs are problematic. This leads to " subsidy-itis", the exhaustion of funds for things that the municipalities would otherwise not commission.
Bonn is not alone in the black book with its exploding renovation costs. For example, instead of the planned 15.8 million euros, the expenditure for the central library in Cologne is now 81 million euros. The Taxpayers' Association also criticises the "penniless town of Neukirchen-Vluyn", which "treated itself to a water feature costing almost 300,000 euros" - financed from the Coronavirus pandemic bailout fund. And in the districts of Paderborn and Höxter, 800 poles in front of bus stops had to be replaced because they were square and not round. Replacing the masts, which were installed in 2013 and on which the timetables hang, will cost 220,000 euros. According to a guideline, such poles must be round for safety reasons. The fact that they were square went unnoticed for seven years by the state enterprise Straßen NRW.
The taxpayer’s association further reports that it was only just able to stop a farce in Krefeld. The local employment agency had wanted to send an unemployed woman to a course against long-term unemployment - four months before was about to reach retirement age.
Original text: Andreas Baumann
Translation: Jean Lennox