Pace for the budget

Pace for the budget

A car traveling at walking speed is a huge nuisance for all road users who have to chug along behind it. But if it's a mercedes with an orange warning light on the roof, with dirk behrens and bernd brokenhorst behind the wheel, drivers from forchheim should be patient. The duo ensures that the city can manage its business sensibly and accumulate less debt.
At the moment, behrens and brokenhorst from the society for road analysis are in the process of recording the condition – and thus the value – of the city's 130-kilometer-long road system. They drive through the city, recording the length, width and condition of the asphalt and entering the data into a computer system that uses stored data to determine the residual value of the road. The same is true for the accompanying walking and biking path or even brucken. Your results are needed for the city budget 2012.
For the third time, the budget is prepared according to the principle of "double-entry accounting", called "double-entry accounting" called "doppik". Detlef winkler of the city chamber describes the procedure as an early warning system for a municipality's financial situation. It should provide for more transparency in the financial conduct of a municipality. "Politicians set the targets and say how much they are willing to spend on a particular task. The double-entry method helps to determine whether these goals can be achieved", explains colleague sonja kohlmann. And behrens and brokenhorst's work ensures that the chamber can make as accurate statements as possible.
"One thing is certain: even with double-entry budgeting, there will be no more money", confirms chamber chief gerhard haagen. The "new municipal finance" was invented at the beginning of the 1980s in the netherlands. "And because the thing worked there, the myth was created that a municipality could become rich through double-entry accounting", explains detlef winkler.
Whereas in the previous budget system, only what was in the till paid – the economists speak of "cash flow" – everything a municipality owns is now included in the overall balance sheet. The income is not only offset by the current expenditures, but now money must also be set aside so that new equipment can be purchased, buildings renovated and employees' pension claims paid out.

At the expense of children

The keyword is "generational justice". So far, one generation has lived too much at the expense of the next. With double-entry budgeting, hidden burdens become more apparent. The costs for the new construction of the sattlertor kindergarten, for example, will be spread out over 30 years in slices and will burden the budget with the same amount in each of the following years.
These expenses were also there before, but no one wanted to see them, says kammerer haagen. His hope is that the presentation of resource consumption will raise awareness among decision-makers. You now have to decide for or against the construction of a school, a street or a bookstore including all consequential costs. The goal: "what our generation can afford, it must also be able to finance."
For the chamberer, this means: "the more a city affords, the more difficult it becomes to achieve a financial balance, because the consequential costs add up", explains kammerer haagen. Therefore, the question is becoming more and more important: what do I want to achieve with the use of my financial resources?? "This is the question that politicians must answer. We can only help you make decisions by showing how much debt we have and what financial reserves we have", clarifies the city chamberer.

Succumbing to temptations?

Kammerer haagen considers the previous system to be unsustainable. "As soon as money was available, the impression arose that it was at the free disposal of the public." But that is not the case, because a large part is needed for maintenance investments. "If a municipality wants to maintain its assets, it must not look at its bank account, but must keep an eye on its long-term liabilities", clarifies detlef winkler.
"Until now, we have deducted the foreseeable expenses from the expected revenues and divided the difference among the individual budgetary departments." In the preliminary draft of the 2012 budget, this was a good 2.1 million euros.
However, if depreciation and amortization, personnel write-downs and other foreseeable burdens are now to be taken into account, this will not only consume the 2.1 million euro. On the contrary, a deficit of more than five million euros arose, which had to be generated. "This is the reality of the budget", clarifies kammerer haagen and regrets: "we are miles away from a cost-covering budget, at least from a doppisch point of view."

Everything that has value is recorded

The chamber does not yet have an "opening balance sheet" either, in which all assets are listed. It should cover not only the city's buildings, properties and assets, but also roads, bridges and sidewalks. "Their production cost money at some point and now still has a residual value. This must be determined in order to be able to say when value-preserving repairs are due or a new building is necessary because a building has become dilapidated", winkler explains.

More assets, more expenditure

The value of the buildings has now been roughly determined.While under the previous cameralistic system, the estimated assets of the city were around 185 million euros, chamberlain gerhard haagen assumes that the city's balance sheet will show assets that are approximately twice that amount. "But appearances are deceiving, warns employee winkler. "The obligations and provisions, i.E. The charges, are also correspondingly higher."
Now it should be clear why the work of dirk behrens and bernd brokenhorst is so important for the city and why motorists should have some patience. Even kammerer haagen and his employees still need it. The data for the opening balance sheet of the double-entry budget will not be finalized until the end of february.