COVID-19 shaves off Bratislava budget for 2021

The city continues to build new transport infrastructure and rental housing as well as revitalise public spaces.

One of plans of Bratislava city council is to continue on extension of teh tram track in Petržalka.One of plans of Bratislava city council is to continue on extension of teh tram track in Petržalka. (Source: Courtesy of Bratislava City Council)

The coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the Slovak capital in 2021, reducing its budget for 2021 by €18 million to €432 million compared to the previous year. Nevertheless, despite the difficult macroeconomic situation the city council has ambitious plans for the year ahead. The main plan is to continue with ongoing projects, especially in transport and public infrastructure, the environment, maintenance of the city and social justice.

City councillors approved the budget on December 17. The city council is prepared to change the budget if the situation requires.

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“In 2020, we used to open the budget and change it due to the pandemic,” said Bratislava Mayor Matúš Vallo. “We will not resist doing this in 2021, either. We will monitor where the money is spent, where it is not being spent and where it needs to be transferred.”

The current debt of the city is €159 million, which translates into 48.5 percent of its current income. The city council assumes that this share would exceed 53.7 percent this year due to disharmony in drawing EU funds to construct the extension of the tram track in Petržalka.

“We are taking all the measures to keep the debt at a level of 50 percent,” said Bratislava spokesperson Katarína Rajčanová, adding that they expect reduction of the debt to around 48 percent in 2022 and 2023.

The city council does not plan any increases in local taxes, but assumes their better collection including tax arrears. Contrary to this, the ban on ambling will cost the city about €4 million in non-tax revenues annually.

Plans for 2021

In the year ahead, the city council will continue working on the construction of the second phase of the tram line in Petržalka. The tram line from Bosákova Street to Janíkov Dvor should be put into operation in December 2023 at the latest. It will further work on preparations for the modernisation of the Ružinovská and Vajnorská tram tracks, the trolleybus line from Patrónka to Riviéra, a new line in the Nivy area, the reconstruction of pavements, construction and maintenance of cycling paths, the purchase of new public transport vehicles and construction of car parks.

During the second half of 2021, the city council plans to launch the postponed city parking policy, while it should start putting revenue in the city’s pocket already in 2021.

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The city council will continue revitalising Sad Janka Kráľa park in Petržalka, planting new greenery and building facilities for biowaste recovery. It plans to build new parks in the boroughs of Karlova Ves and Old Town, as well as repair the Družba fountain on Námestie Slobody Square.

Another big project, on which the city council is already working for some time, is the revitalisation of the SNP Námestie, Kamenné Námestie and Námestie Nežnej Revolúcie squares, creating one of the most important public spaces in the very centre of Bratislava.

“This is why this space requires a complex approach and transformation into a functional space,” said Rajčanová.

Based on many years of analysis and surveys and an architectural tender, the city wants to create a unified public space. The winner of the tender to prepare a new design of this space should be announced in early 2021.

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The revitalisation of Komenského Square in the city centre and Partizánska Lúka meadow is also in the pipeline, part of the Železná Studnička recreational area on the outskirts of the city.

The city council continues to build its own municipal company, whose aim will be to improve, in cooperation with individual boroughs, winter and summer maintenance of roads and pavements. Another important project is building rental flats when the city council continues to work on 12 rental housing projects.

“If all goes well, the first projects, plan to be completed in this election period [ending in December 2022], will bring at least 100 rental flats; another 500 will be in the process of the construction or procurement processes,” said Rajčanová.

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