It seems like a paradox that the alderman of the city of Boudewijn Revis (VVD, finance) had to convey this news on Monday. On the one hand, the city ‘gets’ 675 million euros for the sale of the shares that The Hague has in Eneco. On the other hand, cuts have to be made by the city administration.
Yet, according to the alderman, there is no apparent contradiction. Revis: ‘Compare it with home. If you have too little money left every month, the one-off payment of your holiday pay will not solve the problems. ‘

That is why there was satisfaction in the town hall on Monday. If the city council also agrees with the deal, The Hague will transfer the spectacular amount of 675 million from Japan due to the sale of Eneco in the near future. Much more money than was initially taken into account.

Warning

But there was also a warning on the other side. ‘It seems nice that we now get a lot of money in one go. But the budget is not balanced. We are dealing with structural deficits. And that money is not the solution for all problems, “says Revis.

The coalition that took office a year and a half ago stated in the agreement that the money that will come in later will be used for ‘sustainable improvements in the city’. The document from the end of May 2018 (‘The Hague, City of Opportunities and Ambitions’) states that thirty percent of the proceeds go to sustainability (a ‘revolving energy transition fund’), fifty percent to sustainable mobility (public transport and bicycle) and twenty percent is spent on a beautiful, green layout of streets and squares and affordable housing.

Invest in the city

Although after the forced departure of Hart voor Den Haag / Groep de Mos by VVD, D66, GroenLinks, CDA and PvdA a new coalition is being negotiated, the relationship remains intact for now, according to the alderman. “The best way to spend the money is to invest it in the city.” Exactly how that will happen is yet to be worked out in the coming period.

So it certainly does not mean that it is used to close the current budget by, for example, compensating for the deficits in healthcare. According to the alderman, that is an irresponsible way of accounting. Then the city gets used to a ‘very high level of spending’, while there is no structural money for that. “We are not going to close any gaps and put the problems ahead.”

“I’m pretty cynical about the Empire. That leaves no argument unused to give us less money.” Boudewijn Revis

Over the bridge

Revis did use the opportunity to make another appeal to the government to help the municipalities financially. “The government really has to cross the bridge,” said Revis. It cannot be the case, he says, that Minister Hugo de Jong, for example, fails to notice that almost every municipality has youth care deficits.

That way there are more problems. Because the government spends less than expected, municipalities also receive less. And then there is a third point of concern. The government is willing to contribute to investments in, for example, new rail connections, but the municipality is not going fast enough.

Gloomy edge

That is why what should have been a joyful presentation of a substantial financial injection was a bit of a gloomy edge. Certainly because Revis is also afraid that now that The Hague and other municipalities are collecting a lot of money, the government has an additional argument not to offer a helping hand when it comes to setbacks in healthcare, for example. “I’m pretty cynical about the Empire. That leaves no argument unused to give us less money, “says the alderman of The Hague. ‘I can imagine that the government is thinking: the need is not that high. But the need is high. ”

That is why Revis acknowledged it even better. The Hague will soon receive 675 million euros from Japan. “But we still have to tighten the belt.”