Why the district of Würzburg wants more money from its municipalities

It is the most exciting question among district politicians when the financial administration in the district office draws up the budget for the district of Würzburg: What about the district levy? In 2021, the 52 municipalities in the Würzburg district transferred 37 percent of their income from taxes and key allocations to the district administration, a total of 71.7 million euros.

In 2022, the district wants to buy around ten million euros more from its cities and municipalities. Because the assessment rate for the district surcharge is to be raised by four percentage points, from the previous 37 to 41. At a media interview, District Administrator Thomas Eberth (CSU) explained why this step is necessary.

District Administrator Thomas Eberth wants to secure the district budget in the long term

A year ago, Eberth declared in his first budget speech as district administrator that the district of Würzburg was a partner of the municipalities. “Especially in these corona pandemic times” he wanted to keep the assessment rate for the district surcharge stable at 37 percent. Also to give the municipalities scope for investments.

Eberth, Mayor of Kürnach until 2020, also knows the other side. “I was never thrilled when my community had to pay more for the district levy,” he says openly and knows that his colleagues in the town halls aren’t thrilled. But, “as mayor, I would also understand an increase in the district levy when I see the investments in the district”. Because every euro that the district receives from its cities and municipalities would flow back into the district.

Eberth is now responsible in a different role. As district administrator, he wants to secure the district’s budget in the long term, he says. He sees the district budget for 2022 as a package for education, social affairs, infrastructure, ecology and the sustainability of the communities. Around 100 million euros are planned for investments by 2025. A volume that the district cannot pay out of petty cash – and has to take out loans. 14 million euros are planned for 2022, eight million euros for the budget years 2023 and 2024 and another four million euros are to be raised in 2025. The past year shows that this does not always have to be implemented as planned. Five million euros were planned as a loan. “But because we had money left over, this wasn’t necessary,” says Eberth.

“I was also never thrilled when my community had to pay more for the district levy.”

District Administrator Thomas Eberth (CSU)

With his way into a new indebtedness of the district, Eberth deviates from the strict budgetary policy of his predecessor Eberhard Nuß. His tenure was always characterized by the motto “debts are the stuff of the devil”. “Yes,” says Eberth in front of representatives of the press, “debts are also the stuff of the devil.” However, he adds, “if they are not spent on investments”.

Why should the district levy be increased?

Why does the district now want around ten million euros more from the municipalities? Eberth cites an ongoing administrative deficit of around six million euros, which arose because the district levy had not been increased excessively in recent years. Eberth also keeps an eye on the reserves of the district municipalities, which “are not doing so badly.” And he points out that of the 192 million euros in revenue planned for 2022, 50 million euros alone will be spent on youth and social affairs and a district levy of 39 million euros (800,000 euros more than 2021) will have to be paid – almost half of the revenue from the district levy.

District Administrator Eberth also considers the allocation power of the municipalities in the district of Würzburg, i.e. their total income from taxes and key allocations. And this sum has increased by 2.8 percent compared to 2021, from 194 million euros to 199.4 million.

What does an increase in the district levy mean for the 52 municipalities in the Würzburg district?

Four percentage points more in the district levy, what does that mean in concrete terms for the municipalities? The planned increase for the municipality of Waldbüttelbrunn is the strongest. The municipality would have to give around 875,000 euros more to the district. For example, Estenfeld would pay 822,000 euros, Höchberg 807,000 euros, Reichenberg 636,000 euros, Helmstadt 578,000 euros, Rimpar 487,000 euros and Ochsenfurt 369,000 euros more than in 2021.

“The CSU could support a moderate increase in the district levy to 40 percent.”

CSU faction leader Björn Jungbauer

On February 21, the district council wants to decide on the 2022 budget. It is already clear that the parliamentary groups will not agree to an increase in the district levy by four percentage points. “The CSU could support a moderate increase to 40 percent,” says parliamentary group leader Björn Jungbauer. This is the result of a closed meeting.

District parliamentary groups want a moderate increase in the district levy

The SPD, Greens and UWG/Free Voters still have these ahead of them. But it is already clear that the district administration’s plans will not find support here either. “I don’t think four points are necessary,” says SPD faction leader Stefan Wolfshörndl. Because that would mean that the municipalities would have to hand over their plus key allocations one-to-one to the district. Wölfshörndl could imagine an increase of two points.

“We haven’t discussed it yet, but we could imagine a moderate increase of two points,” says Sven Winzenhörlein, leader of the Bündnis90/Die Grünen parliamentary group. Hans Fiederling, who speaks for the UWG/FW parliamentary group in the district council, is also four percentage points “heavy, two or three would be enough,” he says.

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