Wels is in an excellent financial position: with a debt of eight million euros, the city’s liabilities are almost a hundredth of those in Linz. Nevertheless, an emergency budget is looming. The reasons were reported: SP, VP and the Greens formed an alliance for the first time, which Mayor Andreas Rabl (FP) has so far refused to approve the double budget for 2024/2025. The opposition alliance, which Rabl disparagingly refers to as a “syndicate,” is calling for more transparency and control. The party trio also wants to have a say in the advertising and event budget in the future.
Rabl criticizes the merger of the opposition parties as anti-democratic. In the local council, with the votes of the MFG and Neos, there would be a slim majority for the budget. However, the budget is blocked in the city senate, where Rabl does not have a majority in the current constellation (FP 4, SP 2, VP 1, Greens 1). At the same time, he warns of a political standstill.
While there is agreement on the vast majority of key points, there are problems with the details. The alliance is calling for a different emphasis on sports funding, a pool for support staff in the city’s kindergartens and more human resources for the Alter Schlachthof cultural and event center. A new district budget created for FP planning officer Ralph Schäfer (FP) is also criticized. “We don’t get any information about it. For us it’s a black box,” says SP Mobility City Councilor Stefan Ganzert.
Criticism of Rabl’s negotiating style
At the same time, there is anger about Rabl’s negotiating style: “It feels like you’re at a bazaar,” says SP deputy mayor Klaus Schinninger. “For me the motto was: eat or die,” jokes Green city councilor Thomas Rammerstorfer.
Economics officer Martin Oberndorfer (VP) sees a good chance of reaching an agreement with the ruling FP by the end of December. Now Rabl has to approach them: “We don’t see ourselves as blockers and we still have time to find a common solution,” emphasizes Oberndorfer. If further negotiations fail, a provisional budget will be decided. Oberndorfer currently does not see the danger of an emergency budget that Rabl raised.
The FPÖ’s view is different: “Whoever leaves the negotiating table should propose a new date,” says Deputy Mayor Gerhard Kroiß. Alone: Both sides yesterday accused the other of interrupting the negotiations.
Opposite side should move
In a press conference yesterday, the FP leadership accused the opposition of being unwilling to negotiate. “We would move in some areas, but unfortunately we don’t recognize that on the other side,” says Deputy Mayor Christa Raggl-Mühlberger. The demands are motivated by party politics: “No investments are being made, so the budget is basically good. It’s obviously about depriving the mayor of opportunities to perform and later blaming him because events are cancelled,” says Raggl-Mühlberger.
According to Rabl, the delay in negotiations would cause investments as well as certain subsidies and social benefits to fall by the wayside. The Welser Alliance denies this: “Nobody wants to prevent the payment of social assistance, that also applies to subsidies to clubs,” emphasizes SP deputy mayor Klaus Schinninger.
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