(photo credit: WWW.PIKIWIKI.ORG.IL)
Following two months of infighting between Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat and the Finance Ministry over this year’s municipal budget, Barkat announced on Sunday that a NIS 700 million allowance has been allocated for the city.
The impasse culminated in a three-day sanitation strike in January before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu interceded and helped create a government task force with the Interior Ministry charged with formulating a reasonable budget.
Barkat claimed that Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon reneged on a pledge of NIS 800m. for the cash-strapped city, while Kahlon claimed that Barkat was chronically mismanaging funds.
Although NIS 100m. short of what he sought, Barkat lauded the infusion as helping “change the face of the city and improve the quality of life in it” as the capital celebrates its 50th year of reunification.
“The 2017 budget will allow for the continued growth and development of programs in the fields of education, the city’s appearance and cleanliness, culture, infrastructure, the construction of public buildings and classrooms, economic development and tourism,” he said in a statement. “We fought extremely hard this year for the future of Jerusalem, and the government has recognized my position that Jerusalem represents a national challenge that requires broad support not only in words, but also in deeds and budgets.”
Barkat called the budget allocation a “major victory” that will prevent the layoffs of thousands of city workers and help propel the economically challenged city forward.
The mayor said money will go toward building 1,000 classrooms; improving the capital’s roadways and infrastructure; assisting elderly and special-needs residents; creating more cultural institutions; improving municipal services; and reducing the gaps between the sectors in the city.
The mayor added that NIS 323m. will be invested in urban renewal and infrastructure, including improving roadways and public transportation; the city’s education budget will increase NIS 124m.; and the parks and recreation budget will rise NIS 66m.
The city council will meet on March 15 to approve the budget.