Proposed J'lem budget to focus on culture, sports

Proposed Jlem budget to

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat on Sunday unveiled the capital's 2010 budget, which totals some NIS 3.5 billion and will include an increase of some NIS 15 million in allocated funds for tourism, a doubling of funding for culture and leisure and a focus on sports, the city's youth, and the general appearance of the capital. "The budget of 2010 reflects and promotes the emphasis we put on the lasting economic development of the city of Jerusalem," Barkat said in a statement. "The budget will allow the municipal system to act and promote the city of Jerusalem and to make it into Israel's leading city". While the budget still needs to be approved by the city's Municipal Finance Committee, the Jerusalem City Council and the Interior Ministry before it can move forward, the municipality announced that for the first time, the budget would be submitted for approval this week - before the end of the year - allowing for projects to begin at the start of 2010, if it indeed gains the endorsement of the necessary parties. Additionally, significant funding has been allocated for educational and cultural institutions in east Jerusalem, despite reports that City Hall has been under pressure from right-wing groups to limit construction in Arab neighborhoods of the capital. Details of the budget include an increase in funding for tourism by 266 percent, part of which includes an increase on behalf of the municipality from the previous NIS 3m. to NIS 8m. Additionally, the municipality was able to raise NIS 10m. from the government for the tourism budget, which now stands at NIS 18m. and will be managed by the Jerusalem Development Authority. While the 2009 culture and leisure budget was doubled last year from NIS 10m. to 20m., the municipality again doubled that number, bringing the culture budget in 2010 to NIS 40m. An additional NIS 5 m. - 4 m. of which was raised from the government - will be made available to the Jerusalem Development Authority for the development of cultural complexes in the city. Regarding the city's youth, the municipality announced that in conjunction with the Jerusalem Development Authority, a "Youth Authority" would be established to strengthen and promote the young people of the city. The budget for renovating youth movement buildings will stand at NIS 1m. in 2010, compared to NIS 725,000 in 2009. In the educational realm, the 2010 budget will increase by NIS 40m. for various purposes, including for programs to enhance the quality of teaching and management in the city's schools. The education budgets will increase in east Jerusalem as well, including an added total of NIS 1m. for school maintenance and expenses, which constitutes an increase of approximately 25% compared to 2009. Additionally, NIS 7.8m. will go toward the construction of educational and public buildings in east Jerusalem. Other details of the budget include the addition of five city parks at the cost of NIS 11.8m., the allocation of NIS 1m. for an urban renewal project and affordable housing, along with additional funding for urban planners. The sports budget for 2010 features provisions for the construction of a multi-purpose sports and culture arena, along with an increase to NIS 4m. of funding for sports associations, which will allow the municipality to double its support of small sports associations. NIS 13.3m. has also been allocated for the establishment of hiking trails, biking paths, volleyball courts and sports facilities renovations.