Kohtla-Järve city council finally votes in budgetary cuts
Long-anticipated budget cuts in the eastern Estonian city of Kohtla-Järve have finally become a reality after being voted in at the city council chambers Wednesday.
The town had been without a functioning local government for several months until a coalition deal was struck last month, with former prison director Virve Linder (Isamaa) heading it up as mayor.
This followed a corruption scandal which engulfed much of the city's leadership and which broke in the fall, by which time the extent to which Kohtla-Järve was in the red had become apparent.
All 21 deputies (out of 25) present at Wednesday's session voted in favor of adopting the new budget, which balances costs and receipts, and totals €68.1 million.
A previous budget had been in deficit to the tune of €14 million.
Regional daily Põhjarannik (Link in Estonian) reports that the cuts will fall on sports centers, libraries, schools, kindergartens and other city institutions, with city administration costs totaling half a million, and city council expenses (ie. the council chamber, including the opposition) by close to €100,000.
Mayor Linder, told the daily, however, that the serious work of balancing the budget is just starting, adding that: "I have, however, firm faith in the heads of city institutions, who, as professionals in their field, know their institutions best"
While the costs are unfortunate, the city is in dire financial straits, she added, though said as few people would lose their jobs as possible; nonetheless, "several" will be laid off, ERR reports.
The Kohtla-Järve city government convened an extraordinary session last week, aimed at adopting the budget, as the budget ahead of the deadline to do so, March 31.
The budget bill explanatory note states, for example, that jobs in libraries should be reduced by 30 percent, Põhjarannik reports.
The previous administration had been embroiled in a complicated web of corruption and graft, mainly relating to the issuing of municipal services contracts and with a local businessman Nikolai Ossipenko at the heart of it.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte