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Thursday, December 7, 2023

The city of Košice lacks tens of thousands in the new budget

The city of Košice lacks more than 42 million euros in its budget for next year. On Friday, deputies will discuss the difficult financial situation at an extraordinary meeting of the city council.

“Up to two-thirds of the calculated deficit of 42.2 million euros is made up of missing resources in current expenses. These are used, for example, to finance public transport, road maintenance, social services, primary and kindergarten schools,” said the municipality. The city has prepared packages of austerity measures, the topic of negotiations will also be the increase of local taxes and fees.

Košice lost financial resources

According to the current forecast of the Ministry of Finance, Košice will receive even less money next year than was originally approved in the budget for 2023. The city points to shortfalls in income from share taxes, including the pro-family package, as well as new competences of the cities, which caused an increase in expenses.

“Due to the legislative storm and the insensitive intervention of state authorities in recent years, the city of Košice has lost financial resources in the total amount of 115 million euros,” said municipality spokesman Dušan Tokarčík.

As an example, the city reminds that, as the founder of schools and school facilities, in 2024, according to the state order, in accordance with the higher collective agreement, it will have to spend approximately 11 million euros more on the wages of employees in education than in 2022.

Program budget for next year

The economic department of the municipality sent the deputies the starting points of the prepared Program budget for 2024. The deputies also received materials for the negotiations of the city council and the city council, which will take place in the coming days.

The city has also prepared and is communicating with the deputies packages of savings measures, several of which have already been implemented. “The remuneration of employees of the municipality and the city police, the Christmas concert, children’s New Year’s Eve and New Year’s fireworks have been canceled. The city also stopped the selection process for more than 50 unfilled positions at the municipality. In the coming year, among other things, the prepared projects for the construction of the Social Services Center on Gerlachovská street or new sports fields are not expected,” said the spokesperson. Another proposed set of measures includes, for example, a proposal to suspend the transportation of passengers by streetcars on the high-speed rail to the US Steel steel mills, cancel subsidies for sports and culture, reduce the frequency of mowing, reduce the number of city police officers and city police stations, or suspend the process of the planned construction of the first rental apartments.

Also on the agenda is the amendment of generally binding regulations, which mainly concern local taxes and fees. According to economists’ calculations, the proposed modifications could bring 25.7 million euros to the city coffers. The negotiation will show whether these proposals will be sufficient and what corrections will still need to be made.

According to the director of the Košice municipality, Marcel Čop, it is only up to the deputies to decide what services to the residents and in what quality the city should provide, what else can be cut in the budget and what not. “In addition to the savings in expenses, which we have already begun to implement, we must, like other Slovak cities, also adopt some unpopular measures. If we did not do so, without additional financial resources, there would be a significant deterioration in quality and, in some cases, even a complete stop of the provided services,” he concluded.

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