Muncipalities invest in safety, cut in culture and municipal services
Two thirds of the muncipalities have invested more in law and order and safety in the last period. In, amongst others, culture, municipal services and public administration, there have been significant cuts.
Mostly the average and smaller sized muncipilaties have invested in for example video surveillance, city watch and street coaches. The four largest cities have made significant cuts in these fields.
These are the findings of a de Volkskrant research on the yearly expenditure and income data of muncipalities. These numbers have not been publically analysed before. The income and expenditure data have been compared for 399 out of the 408 muncipalities in the Netherlands, for the period of 2010 to 2013. With this data we are able to map the the choices that city councils have made during the last council period.
The more than fourhundred muncipalities have together made billions of cuts in this last period. The muncipilaties spend a whopping €412 less per citizen then they did in 2010.
One thirds of the muncipalities have invested more in the arts. Broadly there have been major cuts on culture, libraries, sports, public greens, recreational services and municipal services. Furthermore, the muncipalities have made major cuts on its municipal apparatus.
Almost all of the municipalities have increased the local taxes to fill financial gaps. A citizen paid an average of €32 more in local taxes than in 2010, as well as a similar amount more due to payments for muncipal services. Muncipalites earned close to 4.5 billion euros due to the increase in taxes.
There are huge differences in expenditure and cuts between muncipalities. Howcome?
Only about ten percent of a muncipalities income is due to local taxes. Ninety percent of the budget comes directly from the national government. And that gives significantly more money to the largest cities and mudflats than other muncipalities.
Based on more than sixty factors the decision is made on how to devide the total of almost 30 billion euros that is given to muncipalities. Not only the the number of inhabitants and acreage of the muncipality matters. Amsterdam has a centrum position which it receives extra funding for. Other communities have more tasks to fulfill for the region, for example the sheltering of homeless, which they receive extra money for.
Muncipalities on peatland receive more funding than those on sand due to sagging of roads and sewerage. Mudflats receive more money due to the low amount of inhabitants. They are islands so they have to maintain a full level of services – inhabitants can’t simply drive to the next muncipality – for which they get more money.
Next year the national government will define a new means of allocating the money. “Nobody yet kows that this will mean for muncipalities” professor of the economics of decentralised government Maarten Allers says.
Many muncipalities have to deal with significant cuts. However, some more than others. One of the reasons is the declining population in provincial muncipalities. Promising inhabitants leave the muncipality, the population is relatively older and for example houses have to be demolished.
Other communities already have a huge deficit due to expensive landpositions that, due to the crisis, are not marketable anymore. The building sector is no longer investing in this time of crisis. This has bankrupted a few muncipalities.
According to Allers the real cuts are still to come: “this is only the beginning.” Due to the large decentralisations of care services, that start january first 2015, the muncipalities have billions less to spend on elderly care, youth care services and the provision of work and income. Muncipalities are asked to provide the same care, with significant cuts of up to 40% of the current means.
Allers: “The coming cuts will be very painfull. Muncipalities will have to say to the elderly and others in need: find your own help. The big question is if they will succeed in that task. Furthermore, the government still has not been clear about the exact budgets that muncipalities will receive. Postponement is out of the question, the cuts have already been calculated into the budget for next year”