"The town hall must pay", was the headline of our sister newspaper "bayerische rundschau" on friday. In order to receive the urgently needed stabilization aid of 200,000 euros from the free state for 2018, the town council had to decide on an increase in property and trade taxes of at least ten points above the state average in each case. From "blackmail there was then talk in the city council of a serious encroachment on municipal financial sovereignty. How is this incident judged in the kronach district??
Stadtsteinach town hall has to ask the citizens to pay for it
The statement of the bavarian ministry of finance in response to a question from the frankischer tag is unambiguous: "no, there is no case in the district of kronach comparable to that in stadtsteinach." Mdl jurgen baumgartner (CSU), however, believes that the situation in stadtsteinach is not a unique case. "Any stabilization aid is subject to conditions", is his assessment. In the franconian forest, such requirements have been common practice since this state support was introduced (2013). "The communities had to make deep cuts in our area as well", the delegate looks back into the past.
Baumgartner even sees such targets as a form of fairness between municipalities: why should a municipality that does not exhaust its revenue possibilities receive the same aid as another that does its homework? And in the end, no municipality is forced to take advantage of the aid," he says.
There is still room for improvement
Baumgartner admits, however, that he still sees room for improvement in the allocation of these funds. He names three points of departure: transparency, the award criteria ("some cities and communities are currently still falling behind") and the consolidation of the demand. The latter means linking aid not only to the current situation, but also to the reduction of the investment backlog.
Finally, the deputy is not afraid to address another remedy for long-term hardship. "If the economic situation remains the same, some municipalities will have problems paying off their debts. In some cases, it may then need a debt cut", he predicts.
A look at the municipalities
Mario kotschenreuther, head of the municipality of wilhelmsthal, also points to equal treatment. While stadtsteinach, for example, is now raising its property tax B (developed land) to a rate of 344 (2013: 300, last 334/state average for municipalities of this size: 333.3), the rate in wilhelmsthal has been 345 for many years. In the meantime, however, the municipality's debt (3.06 million euros) has been reduced to a level comparable to that of 1988.
Here, wilhelmsthal has lived up to what the state has proclaimed in return for its support: "demand and demand." The state wants to see that the recipients of the aid also take care of their own problems. The stabilization aids "are not an order portal for funds", he says.
Avoid tax spiral
The mayor of wallenfels, jens korn (CSU), agrees with this idea in principle. His city will also have to adjust its tax rates again this year, even though this was done only two years ago. "Before I ask someone else for help, of course I have to help myself first", shows understanding for the government's position. However, he sees a major hitch in the implementation of the stabilization aids.
The basis for the required increases in property and trade taxes is a bavarian-wide average of comparable municipalities. If, however, many cities and municipalities within this group have to increase their tax rates, the initial value for the following year also rises automatically. "It's like a perpetual motion machine," he says, korn fears continued tax increases. In his opinion, this spiral had to be stopped.