Jerusalem’s budget for 2016

The budget still has to be presented to the city council and be approved by it.

Jerusalem municipality (photo credit: WWW.PIKIWIKI.ORG.IL)
Jerusalem municipality
(photo credit: WWW.PIKIWIKI.ORG.IL)
After a delay of almost two months, the Jerusalem Municipality has finally presented its budget for 2016. It is not yet the end of this long and winding road, however. The budget still has to be presented to the city council and be approved by it.
Considering that the opposition on the council is represented by only two members (Laura Wharton of Meretz and Itai Gutler of the Zionist Union), the chances that the budget will not be approved are slim.
The security situation and its threats, especially to the economy, have been a prominent aspect of creating the budget. Mayor Nir Barkat has emphasized that following a highly publicized struggle with the government, particularly the Treasury, the budget has been consolidated through special government grants, which made it possible to promote his views on the city’s needs and development plans.
Jerusalem’s 2016 budget is NIS 7 billion. It is comprised of two parts: the current city budget, mostly made up of the city’s income via taxes and other sources, which stands at NIS 5.165b. (an increase of 5 percent compared to last year, or an additional NIS 245 million); and the development budget, which comes directly from the government, and is NIS 1.8b.
A city’s budget reveals the vision of its leadership by showing where the focus is placed. For example, this year’s budget puts an emphasis on Jerusalem’s physical aspects – the parks, streets and sidewalks. In this area, the 2016 budget adds NIS 34m. (NIS 20m. from the current budget and NIS 14m. from the special development budget). Residents can expect some 600 new parks, including in the Arab sector; the planting of hundreds of trees along the streets; and continuation of the project to provide shade in parks and playgrounds so they can be used during the hot summer days.
The culture, leisure and sports sector has obtained additional funds (compared to 2015) of NIS 18.5m. That sum includes support for cultural institutions, some of which are struggling to survive. Support is provided for cultural activities in the neighborhood councils and community centers, as well as the major downtown project – the building and developing of a “culture campus” on the Menora compound (near the Gerard Behar Center). For the first time, the municipality will also support pre-army courses.
In the area of education, the increase in the budget is probably the most significant, with the addition of NIS 128m. (NIS 91m. from the current budget and 37m. from the development budget). It will enable the completion of computerizing schools, continuing and enlarging the 11-month project in kindergartens, preventing dropouts in the Arab sector, and the construction of hundreds of new classrooms in the haredi and Arab sectors.
A special project aimed at combating poverty among Jerusalem’s residents will be granted additional funds this year, within the larger community and residents program.
NIS 57m. has been approved for the project, which will track needy families and work with them on specific programs to help extricate them from the cycle of poverty. The program will also include special projects for the new olim expected in 2016, mostly from France.