Investments: Cost accounting for new school building shocks the finance committee

Can the city of Waren even afford to build two new schools? There were considerable doubts about this at the meeting of the municipal finance committee on Wednesday evening, because the administration presented figures on the construction costs and the need for credit, which made the meeting participants ponder.

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Cost explosion for elementary school and regional school

The investment project for the primary school (GS) Käthe Kollwitz School was originally planned at 15.1 million euros. The city administration made it clear that the main trade alone is now a little more than six million euros more expensive. This puts the construction costs at just under 22 million euros. According to information from the building authority, the bidder can no longer keep this price. Therefore, a risk premium of 15 percent of three million is expected, so that the Kollwitz school will probably cost 25 million euros in the end – without the sports field and gym in Hans-Beimler-Straße. The recalculated own contribution would be around 20 instead of around 11 million euros as before. According to the administration, the own contribution for a new building of the regional school (RS) Waren/West is 41 million euros. The total costs, including the risk premium, the renovation of the gymnasium and the demolition/new construction of the day-care center, rise to 44 million euros.

Both schools bring high per capita debt

At the Finance Committee meeting, the new Treasurer Matthias Mahnke explained how these sums could be raised. On the agenda was the presentation of the financial impact of the school building investments on the city’s future budgets. The treasurer presented a total of four scenarios and the loans required for them. If both school construction projects are implemented, the credit requirement will be around 56 million euros. If only the Käthe Kollwitz elementary school, which is already being planned, was implemented, the loan requirement would be 14.5 million euros. For the regional school in Waren/West, the credit requirement would be around 37 euros. The city would not have to take out any loans at all if no investments were made in any of the schools, but all other planned investments by the city were carried out, which were also taken into account in the other calculation models. Depending on the model, the per capita debt in 2025 would be 12 euros if no schools were built and 2,600 euros more if both school projects were implemented.

Not enough funds for the time being

The treasurer’s conclusion was that the city of Waren would not have the financial means by 2025 to build an inclusive new school for the GS and RS. Far-reaching measures are necessary for financing, for example trade taxes, fees, leases or voluntary services. Reviewing the city’s inclusion strategy could also help reduce costs. A direction should not be determined with the scenarios presented. “I would not have expected that,” was not only the committee chairman Ralf Spohr (CDU) surprised, because the figures were presented for the first time. Even an increase in rents and taxes would not meet the financial needs.

Möller sees priority at the regional school

In view of the changes, the RS has top priority for Mayor Norbert Möller (SPD), because there the need for renovation and the burden of the number of students are significantly higher. In addition, talks would have to be held with the district and school authorities because “the inclusion as it is now being considered” cannot be implemented with the available funds. In addition, all other investments would also have to be put to the test. It is important to only do what is currently necessary and to postpone everything else until later. If the city treasury slips into the red as a result of the construction work, steps should be taken to get out of this area as quickly as possible.

“Money becomes worthless”

AfD parliamentary group leader Frank Müller said that even the money saved will “eventually become worthless if you don’t build.” The question is whether it’s worth putting things off because schools aren’t getting better and prices aren’t going down. Now the money is still worth something. In addition, investing in schools would be about compulsory tasks. He sees savings potential in the climate manager or in the library, where it should be checked whether “the population is still aware of it at all”.

The mayor signaled that he primarily wanted to invest in both schools in Waren/West as far as possible, regardless of the outcome of the discussions, which must now be conducted as quickly as possible before the vote can be taken.