Municipal Enterprises as Shadow Budgets – How do they Affect the Actual Budgetary Situation of Germany´s Local Governments?
in: Wirtschaft im Wandel,
Outsourcing of municipal tasks from the core budget to municipal enterprises tends to distort the perception of the actual financial position, net assets and results of operations of the German local governments. Excess supply or -demand of/for local public services might be possible consequences of this development. Hence, this article attempts to develop a more comprehensive picture of the municipal budgetary position by a simultaneous analysis of selected indicators. Furthermore, the methodological problems of the calculations are illustrated.
If these shadow budgets are taken into account, the total per capita revenues, -investments and -debts will increase by approximately one third to 50%. However, the share of the municipal employees belonging to the core administration in the total number of municipal employees is 75%. Although only about 22% of the expenditures for certain voluntary municipal tasks have been outsourced, there seems to be an upward trend.
The study also indicates that there are significant differences between Eastern and Western German cities. These include the higher revenues from municipal enterprises, the higher debts per capita and the higher expenditures on culture, sports, leisure services or the promotion of science in Eastern Germany.
The results should be interpreted carefully due to some shortcomings of the official statistics. For example, internal cash flows cannot be totally eliminated. Moreover, indirect municipal majority holdings as well as the municipal savings banks are not included in the results.
All in all, it remains to be seen whether the initiated reforms concerning the introduction of double-entry accounting into the local government budgeting system will help to achieve the ideal goal of a meaningful “consolidated financial statement” for the “city company”.