After the first four months of the current budget year, a difficult financial situation is emerging for the state capital, which will also noticeably restrict the scope for action of the future alliance of Greens, SPD, Volt and Left Party.

For the members of the main and finance committee, treasurer Axel Imholz (SPD) only had “one piece of good news” ready on Wednesday evening: The income from trade tax is around 30 million euros more than in the disaster year 2021. But that’s still ten million less, than Imholz had calculated for 2022.

Oliver Bock

Correspondent for the Rhein-Main-Zeitung for the Rheingau-Taunus district and for Wiesbaden.

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But it's not just the lack of income that worries Imholz.

There are also the high costs of accommodating and caring for war refugees from Ukraine.

Imholz does not assume that the costs will be fully reimbursed by the federal or state governments.

The amount that Wiesbaden has to pay is one of the big unknowns in the calculations of the employees in the treasurer's department.

Added to this are the indirect costs of the Russian war of aggression due to higher energy prices, which so far can only be estimated to a limited extent.

For the transport company, Imholz expects additional fuel costs of two million euros.

But the disposal companies, the fire brigade and the city administration also have a fleet that is significantly more expensive to maintain.

In addition to these higher prices, Imholz expects high inflation and ongoing collective bargaining for the public sector to have a financial impact.

The fluctuations in the implementation of the budget that have been discernible so far have reached an unknown extent, says the treasurer regarding the uncertainties in the planning.

“We drive on sight, we have no other choice”

So far, Imholz had calculated a deficit of almost 70 million euros for the current year.

Now he calculated for the city councilors that more than 100 million are probably missing in a budget that has still not been approved by the supervisory authority.

And it is already clear that the double budget adopted by the four-party alliance last year is wasted in that a completely new, updated draft budget will probably have to be drawn up and submitted for 2023.

This repeats what happened to the double budget 2020/21 because of the pandemic.

"Risks wherever you look," says Imholz and therefore announces a budget freeze.

However, it should not have a comprehensive effect, but should, for example, leave out the planned expenditure for investments and maintenance.

In June, at the end of the second quarter, there should also be a "cash checkout" in order to gain clarity about Wiesbaden's financial situation in the third year of the pandemic and in the first year of the Ukraine war.

"None of this is satisfactory," Imholz admitted frankly in the committee: "We drive on sight, we have no other choice."

The budget freeze will affect, among other things, the filling of new positions in the administration that have not yet been included in the position plan.

Imholz announces talks with the heads of department about expenses that are unavoidable, for example because there are contractual obligations or because third-party funds only flow if the city also contributes their share.

Wiesbaden did not want to breach the contract, Imholz assured.

However, there is also not enough time for a “serious task review” to scour the budget for potential savings.