Narva's greatest budgetary challenges to come in education
With discussions regarding the €100 million budget for the city of Narva just now beginning in city government, the largest challenges and goals are estimated to come in the field of education.
Narva's new city government coalition is planning on approving the city budget by the end of February. The investment plan drawn up by the city's previous government, which led to the ousting of then-mayor Aleksei Jevgrafov, will be looked at critically.
Mayor of Narva Katri Raik (SDE) said the budget's peculiarities come from there not being much room to make major distributions. For example, any changes in the social field must take into account that a third of Narva's population is older than 60 and there are 8,000 people with disabilities in the city.
There is €22 million intended for investments in the budget and the city government can prioritize somewhat. Primarily, investments will be made to long-planned actions, such as the reconstruction of the town hall and the town hall square, in addition to a reconstruction of a transit road through Narva.
Another important investment is in education. "We are speaking of building a state high school and renovating two basic schools. It is important that we are talking of building an Estonian kindergarten, renovating an Estonian basic school and the city government's clear vision is that if the midtown school becomes a primary school and will be renovated, it will become a language immersion school next to Narva's state high school," Raik said.
"Meaning the talks of a Russian education in Narva would disappear and we would find an Estonian-language educational model that fits everyone. It is perhaps the greatest challenge with this budget," the mayor continued.
The larger investment projects will be financed by the state and European development funds. The city's funding is based on loan money. "Of course, it is important with all this budgetary talk is that we would not borrow ourselves broken. The city's loan burden is more than 40 percent of the yearly budget. Considering Narva's incomes, considering the COVID period, it is dangerously high for me," the Narva mayor said.
Substantive debate on the budget should begin right after the city council committees are confirmed, set to take place on Thursday. Raik said the €96 million budget is set to be discussed at a sitting on February 25.
"We have taken steps toward it every day to discuss the budget actively. It has been discussed, but there is a ways to go. And if we want to cross of some investments that the previous city government was planning that are not a priority and to go forward with what I have named and to deal with the EU transition funds as actively as possible," Raik noted.
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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste