City of Tartu taking Estonia to court over care reform

Tartu Town Hall, the seat of Tartu city government.
Tartu Town Hall, the seat of Tartu city government. Source: Vladislava Snurnikova/ERR

The City of Tartu finds the Estonian government hasn't fulfilled its constitutional duties in securing the necessary funding for the nationwide care reform, and therefore wants to take the matter to the Supreme Court.

Tartu city government announced that due to public underfunding, Estonia's second city will be facing a budget deficit of at least €1.6 million next year, and that in order to maintain the reform, this sum will have to be allocated at the expense of other municipal services.

With the help of the Supreme Court of Estonia, the city wants to obtain assurance that the state will fully support the implementation of the care reform going forward as well as cover the shortfall in its 2024 funding.

Mayor Urmas Klaas (Reform) said that the obligations imposed on Tartu by the care reform are national obligations, the costs of which must be fully funded from the state budget.

"As things currently stand, Tartu will need to find at least €1.6 million from its own budget for next year to cover the public funding shortfall," Klaas stressed. "Tartu city government believes that state support being short by such a large sum in only the second year of the reform is unacceptable and unconstitutional."

By law, the city must pay for the care staff costs making up part of a care home placement's total cost. However, according to the city government, the state has not made a legally binding commitment to support the City of Tartu or other local governments with the necessary funds to do so.

Currently, while the state has made promises to cover the costs, no regulatory acts exist that would stipulate the full financing of state-imposed obligations from the state budget.

According to the city, the methodology and underlying data on the basis of which reform-related costs are planned have been questionable as well.

Therefore, Tartu city government is proposing to Tartu City Council to submit a request to the Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the failure to pass legislative acts that would stipulate the full funding of obligations imposed on local government units by the care reform from the state budget.


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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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