With a mixture of savings and additional income, the city council of the heavily indebted municipality of Ludwigshafen wants to get the 2023 budget approved by the state supervisory authority. After a controversial discussion, the committee of the second largest city in Rhineland-Palatinate approved a budget with a clear majority on Wednesday, which is reported to have a deficit of around 30 million euros.
The resolution is based on a joint application by the SPD and CDU. Among other things, an increase in the amusement tax from 22 to 25 percent and the introduction of a bed tax for hotels are planned.
The supervisory and service directorate ADD had signaled last year that the submitted budget could not be approved. The authority criticized, for example, that a deficit of 98 million euros would reach a level that would go hand in hand with a considerable amount of new borrowing.
SPD faction leader David Guthier spoke of a balancing act for the city. On the one hand, it is important to get a budget that can be approved, which hurts, on the other hand, funds for social cohesion must also be available in the future. Guthier promoted investments in education and infrastructure, such as the renovation of elevated roads as important transport axes in the region. The federal and state governments would have to bear the brunt of the costs.
CDU faction leader Peter Uebel said that the main problem of the municipality is chronic municipal underfunding. The task now is to make the city capable of acting again. The fact that there has been no budget for three months is a "fiasco" and creates planning uncertainty.
Other speakers sometimes chose drastic words. Raik Dreher from the Green Forum and Pirates faction spoke, among other things, of "cuts with the lawnmower", FDP faction leader Thomas Schell criticized a "scarcity economy". Green parliamentary group leader Hans-Uwe Daumann emphasized: "The city can't get out of crisis mode." Ludwigshafen never budgeted lavishly. "Rather the opposite."
Mayor Cornelia Reifenberg, who chaired the meeting, spoke of a memorable consultation after the vote. "The situation is far beyond normal," said the CDU politician in the Pfalzbau.
At the beginning of the debate, city treasurer Andreas Schwarz campaigned for the budget to be accepted. "As treasurer, I would like a broad vote for the negotiations with the ADD," said Schwarz. It is also important to make it clear to the authority that a shortfall is unavoidable. In front of the building, representatives of civil society groups protested against cuts in the social sector.