Surprise surplus

City of Bonn suddenly has surplus of 59 million euros

Kämmerin Margarete Heidler stellte im Mai den Haushaltsentwurf vor - damals ging sie nach von einem Defizit von rund 86 Millionen Euro für 2017 aus.

Treasurer Margarete Heidler presenting the budget in May - at that time a deficit of 86 million euros had been projected for 2017.

Bonn. City treasurer Margarete Heidler had expected a deficit of around 86 million euros, but now Bonn has a surplus of 59 million euros for 2017. Nevertheless, the city wants to stick to its savings course.

It was primarily the commercial or business tax that helped lead to a budget surplus of 59.5 million euros, instead of a deficit for 2017, according to the city administration.  It means the revenues were 46 million euros more than the actual budget.  Five companies each paid more than 10 million euros in taxes, one of them paying the most with 27.7 million euros - presumably a Bonn Dax company.  The city did not give further details. 

Also for the current year, the treasury expects ample commercial tax revenue.  Sales tax revenues of around 600 million euros are planned and trade tax alone is expected to increase by around 58 million euros.  But the administration says it is difficult to foresee the actual revenue. 

For the time being, despite the positive trend, it is projecting an annual deficit of 50 million euros for this year. The total debt of the city is expected to rise from the current 1.76 to 2.03 billion euros.  

The two-year budget has not yet reached final agreement in the council.  Consultations on painful cuts in recreation and culture are just beginning.  The CDU, Greens and FDP coalition said on Tuesday that it would stay on course with its savings program.  

The news of the surprise surplus from 2017 reached the local political fractions only this week, four months after the budget was introduced.  A reliable projection was not possible earlier, according to city deputy spokesman, Marc Hoffman, because of “ongoing work on the annual accounts.”  They could only surmise that 2017 would yield positive results. 

SPD parliamentary leader of the council opposition, Bärbel Richter said that the budget should be reworked if there continues to be higher revenues than expected.  Some cuts, such as the grant for the Euro Theater Central - may not be needed anymore.  Chair of the the Linke party (Left party), Michael Faber, said the city should use the surplus to reduce the debt, invest in modern swimming pools and affordable housing.  

(Orig. text: Andreas Baumann / Translation: ck)