On 31 October the Tallinn City Government presented the City Council with a draft municipal budget for 2020 that totals nearly 823 million euros. The next year's municipal budget is nearly 25% bigger than that for 2017.
According to the Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart, the next year’s budget focuses on improving the well-being of citizens so that they could all perceive the budget’s impact in everyday life. “It means that the totals of relatively inconspicuous budget lines have grown - for example, reconstruction of sidewalks, walkways and neighbourhood roads, snow removal and street cleaning, or street lighting, playgrounds adapted to children with special needs, public garbage bins that allow sorting of waste, and many other little things that make urban space more comfortable for the locals,” said the Mayor.
“Next year the City Government will start developing a concept for involving citizens in the development of the 2021 municipal budget. Essentially, this way the residents of each district could identify a priority that the city could invest in,” noted Kõlvart. “The city launched the inclusion project or the positive city project already in 2014 to invite citizens to submit their ideas about improving their living environment. Implementing an inclusive budget would constitute the next phase of our positive city project.”
As for social welfare, the municipal budget will ensure the social coping of various target groups and allow them to be actively involved in the community. The budgeted operating costs and investments of the social and healthcare sector total nearly 67 million and 11 million euros, respectively. This includes services and benefits for families with children, the elderly, persons with special needs, and others in need of assistance. “The 20 percent salary raise of care workers should be highlighted,” said Kõlvart. “As the provision of nursing services at major care homes has not bee solved on the national level we use the municipal budget to fund home nursing services for chronically ill patients living at home and for elderly residents at Iru Care Home.”
“Next year we will the increase the amount of support person services for severely or profoundly disabled adults by 50 percent and raise the hourly service fee to ten euros from the current rate of six euros. The aim is to ensure sufficient availability of necessary services for the disabled and competitive remuneration for support persons. We have planned nearly two million euros in the budget to ensure support person services for children with a severe or profound disability and some of this money will come from the savings achieved by closing the Tallinn Television,” explained the Mayor.
Compared to the initial 2019 municipal budget, operating costs in the health sector will grow by 13.7% next year and 11% in the social welfare sector whereas investments in these sectors will increase by 142% and 170%, respectively.
Next year the urban authorities will gradually recondition and reconstruct playgrounds across the city to create development and playing opportunities for children with special needs and their families - 1.5 million euros are envisaged in the budget to this end.
Education sector operating costs make up 40 percent of the municipal budget or nearly 263 million euros, including funding from the central government. The planned education sector investments total nearly 49 million euros. Next year the overhaul of Tondi Secondary School - one of Estonia’s largest schools for children with special needs - and the renovation of Lasnamäe Secondary School will be completed, preparations will be made for the reconstruction of Tallinna Arte Upper Secondary School and the overhaul of Mustjõe Upper Secondary School, plus the construction of a sports hall next to Nõmme Upper Secondary School will start. The renovation of a total of 13 schools and nurseries is set to begin next year.
“Starting next autumn the meal cost of children who live in Tallinn and attend a private nursery will be reimbursed to support parents who are forced to find alternative learning environments children due to the needs or specific characteristics of their children,” emphasized Kõlvart. “Further, we would like to provide more support for prevention and intervention programs that address school bullying. School bullying should be subject to zero tolerance and we will allocate more than 50,000 euros to implement various prevention and intervention programs in all our schools.”
Operating costs in the education sector have grown 3.2% and investments 10% compared to the initial budget for this year.
As for transport infrastructure, the priorities include the repair of neighbourhood roads and walkways for which eight million euros are planned or three million more than last year. The city will invest a total of 70 million euros in this sphere. Among other efforts, the construction of tracks for pedestrians, cyclists and recreational sports will continue, including the second phase of pedestrian and cycling tracks at Viljandi mnt, the pedestrian and cycling tracks of Hooldekodu tee, and the respective tracks that connect Filtri tee with Kadriorg and Ülemiste junction terminal. Altogether 6.2 million euros will be spent on said tracks. Plus, there are plans to construct railway underpasses for pedestrians, for example at Endla tn, Paldiski mnt, Pääsküla Railway Station, and between Kotka tn and Tehnika tn.
As for urban maintenance, three million euros are envisaged for further reconditioning of parks and green zones. Also, the efforts to develop community farming across districts will continue. The operating costs for urban maintenance will grow 15.3% compared to this year’s initial municipal budget whereas investments go up nearly 25%.
Other major investments include the development of Tallinn City Theatre - 5.7 million euros. As the complete reconstruction of the theatre’s facilities calls for a temporary location for performing plays the Salme Culture Centre will also undergo extensive renovation next year for a total cost of almost 800,000 euros.
1.5 million euros are allocated for constructing the Tiger Valley at Tallinn Zoo, and 5.5 million euros are planned for investments at the Tallinn Botanical Garden (reconstruction of Palm House and extensive renovation of auxiliary facilities).
Furthermore, the budget features smaller investments across all other domains under municipal jurisdiction.