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Municipal Policy in Halle (May 29, 1994)

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Rauen: Well, we have to distinguish between two sets of problems. So we have, first, the State Fiscal Equalization Scheme, the equalization between strong and weak states. And then there’s fiscal equalization between the cities and the state, cities and communities and the state. The two are connected because everything is fed from the same source, namely from tax revenues. And since everything can be divided up only once, the enormous accumulation of tasks will also lead to an intensification of the battle among the states over allocation. Of course, we want the largest possible chunk from the respective states – in this regard all the cities are the same, in East and West alike. The states want to keep as much as possible for themselves. That’s the normal starting point, and it always exists when someone has more and the other has less and an equalization is supposed to take place. But what is especially burdensome here is that the tasks for the states and communities are incomparably greater than in comparable Western states and cities. The standard that has existed there for over 40 or 45 years has now reached a level that people here, at best, can only dream about. And since people don’t want to wait forever, and since they tell themselves, we’re going to die, after all, and what use is it to us if the favors coming from the West reach us in 20 years, because we’ll be dead by then, and it won’t do us any good, a basic mood of discontent arises if, on the one hand, one has before one’s very own eyes what was once imagined as the Western paradise (which by now has also taken on some less pleasant aspects), and, on the other hand, one has also experienced the disaster in one’s own region, own city, own community.

Deutschlandfunk: Now, the Deutsche Bundesbank, as a response, as it were, to the manifesto of the German Association of Cities, has reproached the East German communities by saying that their personnel ratio is too high, that the costs in the administrative budgets, as far as personnel costs are concerned, don’t add up, that they must be reduced.

Rauen: This general statement is correct or was largely correct. I’ll make this clear to you by using the example of Bonn-Halle once again. In Bonn, I also headed the personnel department for a time, and that city has a staff – meaning administrative staff – of about 5,500. When I came to Halle, I found a personnel body of 13,000, and I’m talking about a city of the same size. And about a city that, during GDR times, obviously had far fewer responsibilities than is the case in a western or southern German city. By now we’ve cut about 4,500 employees; that’s to say, we recognized this imbalance, which the Bundesbank rightly skewered, and not only did we recognize it, we also took resolute steps against it. Of course, this is a difficult business, 4,500 people is a lot, and to release a portion of them into joblessness is also a heavy psychological burden for the decision-makers, a burden that they have to bear. It literally cannot be done without tears, and without vehement public discussions. [ . . . ]

Source: “Interview mit dem Oberbürgermeister von Halle” [“Interview with the Lord Mayor of Halle”], Deutschland Archiv 27, no. 7 (1994), p. 781 ff.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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