Bonn · The corona crisis is costing the city of Bonn around 70 million euros. The federal government is providing compensation for part of the losses. Financial officer Margarete Heidler considers the billion-euro corona package to be the last word on crisis management for the local authorities.
Financial officer Margarete Heidler expects corona-related losses of around 49 million euros this year. She told the Finance Committee last week that this sum is based on reports from the individual offices as of the cut-off date of April 30. A large part of this gap could be closed with funds from the federal aid package.
The city expects to lose 43 million euros in trade tax. In addition, there will be lower revenues from nursery and after-school care (OGS) fees, as well as additional expenditures related to the corona crisis. The local authorities estimate 2.5 million euros alone for the operation of the diagnostic centre in Bad Godesberg. In addition to the 49 million euros, the city’s municipal subsidiaries will have to bear around 20 million euros in losses – ranging from the public utilities (empty buses, trains and car parks) to BonnCC, which is unable to hold conferences in the World Conference Center in Bonn.
The city is currently receiving applications for tax deferral amounting to 18 million euros. “We are treating this with a great deal of goodwill, but will soon have to return to normality,” stressed Heidler. Enforcements and reminders have been suspended at the moment. The federal government has announced that it will compensate the local authorities for the loss in trade tax revenue. It is not clear whether this will be done on a “one to one” basis, said Heidler: “We hope to learn more in the next few days”. An even more important decision for Bonn's budget is the government’s announcement to cover 75 percent of accommodation costs for the long-term unemployed. These have been rising for years. Heidler hopes for permanent relief of 20 to 24 million euros per year. The government’s assumption of old debts - about 1.8 billion euros in Bonn alone - is probably off the table, she regretted.
Heidler considers the federal government's billion-euro corona package to be the last word on crisis management for the local authorities. “Further compensation due to the pandemic is not to be expected,” she said. “We will have to cope with it.” Following a discussion with the local government watchdog in the district government, she assumes that the requirement to balance the budget from 2021 will remain. However, any red figures resulting from the corona crisis will be shown separately. Together with Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan, Heidler has decided to introduce the double budget 2021/2022 in December and not in September as planned. The council will not have much time for the budget debates afterwards, which could also involve possible cuts. According to Heidler, the budget must be adopted by 1 March 2021 at the latest.
(Original text: Andreas Baumann, Translation: Caroline Kusch)