Social Dems: Tallinn Wants to Put Kindergartens on Ice ({{commentsTotal}})

The Social Democrats are criticizing Tallinn for planning to fund an ice rink amidst a shortage of kindergarten options for many children.

"The year's draft budget showed the city is planning to spend more on building a giant ice rink in Tondiraba next year than it will spend on fixing the city's chronic kindergarten shortage," said Anto Liivat and Abdul Turay, two of the party's city councilmen, in a statement on Friday.

Although the Center Party has a majority of the seats on city council and votes as a bloc, the Social Dems vowed to press on, submitting point-by-point amendment proposals in what will be seen as essentially a filibuster exercise, though they say their goal is not to be obstructionist.

The party's gripe is that with more than 1,000 children needing kindergarten places in Tallinn, the city is planning to invest 16 million euros in 2014 on an ice rink in Tondiraba. Meanwhile, it is spending only 3-4 million on expanding kindergarten places.

"For this sum we could guarantee free kindergarten places for every child and support all sport activities for the young for up to 50 euros a year," said Tallinn City Council Vice Chairman Anto Liivat. 

The Social Democrats are preparing to present amendments to the city budget for 2014 in a night sitting (filibuster) in the city council, which will directly increase the money invested in school facilities, ensure hobby education for children aged 4-19 and support youth sports activity at 2009 levels. 

"In 2014 the budget sport activity expenditure did not increase while at the same time renting of sports facilities belonging to the city did, placing parents and sports clubs in a very difficult situation," said the councilmen.

In directly unrelated news, Tallinn Deputy Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart announced that the city would raise the maximum age for child discounts at city sports facilities from 16 to 19.