Here are some of the key points of Helsinki’s budget plan for 2022.
Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen (the NCP) presenting the budget for next year at the Helsinki City Hall on November 4, 2021. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
Helsinki’s new budget proposal for 2022, pulled together by the nine parties in the Helsinki City Council, contains measures that aim to secure the city’s sustainable growth. The new proposal was presented at the Helsinki City Hall last week.
According to the profit and loss statement, the total of the city’s external operating expenses will increase by 5.7% in 2022, compared to the 2021 budget. The municipal tax will remain at 18%.
The council is also aware that Finland’s gross domestic product is expected to increase by 3.5% this year, and the economy is predicted to continue its recovery next year.
The council has earmarked a total one-time appropriation of €70 million for coronavirus recovery in 2022 and 2023.
The coronavirus package is divided into divisions as follows: €45 million to the social services and health care division, €17 million to the education division and €8 million to the culture and leisure division. The funds of the recovery package will be used to cover rebuilding costs resulting from the pandemic.
Paavo Arhimäki (the Left Alliance), the deputy mayor of culture and leisure, observing his colleague from another party Daniel Sazonov (the NCP), who is the deputy mayor for social services and health care, to speak in the budget info through a remote connection due to another meeting abroad. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
A growing city, according to the proposal, requires investments. “As such, Helsinki will be continuing its strong investments in traffic infrastructure, housing production and the service network,” the city noted.
In the coming year, Helsinki’s investments will total almost €1.1 billion, including municipal enterprises. According to the statement: “This record-high investment level will enable the continued growth of the city’s population and economy in the 2020s.”
The investments will fund numerous essential projects to local residents, including housing production, building and repairing schools, and investments in streets, traffic lanes and parks.
Large traffic investments include Jokeri Light Rail line, the Crown Bridges Light Rail (Kruunusillat) and the Kalasatama–Pasila tramway. The renovation project of Finlandia Hall is also a costly expense.
The city is also preparing to meet the costs of building the so-called Tunnel of Sörnäinen (Sörnäisten tunneli), a 1.6-kilometer underground tunnel for passenger cars that would connect Sörnäisten rantatie to Hermannin rantatie. The idea is to make the passenger car traffic smoother and bring more space for pedestrians and cyclists. The costs for building the tunnel are estimated to be around €180 million.
More money (the exact sum is unknown at this writing) is also allocated to prevent segregation by investing in the areas of Malminkartano-Kannelmäki, Malmi and Mellunkylä.
At the budget info, Mayor Vartiainen promised to raise salaries in fields that are facing challenges in recruiting people. In which occupations? Details will be revealed later. Photograph: Tony Öhberg/Finland Today
In addition to Mayor of Helsinki Juhana Vartiainen (the National Coalition Party), four deputy mayors were present at the budget info:
- Daniel Sazonov (the National Coalition Party), the deputy mayor for social services and health care. NCP has 23 seats in the Council.
- Anni Sinnemäki (the Green League), the deputy mayor for urban environment. The party has 18 seats in the Council.
- Nasima Razmyar (the SDP), the deputy mayor for education. SDP has 13 seats in the Council.
- Paavo Arhimäki (the Left Alliance), the deputy mayor of culture and leisure. The party has 11 seats in the Council.
- Not present was a member of the Finns Party, the fifth-largest party in the Council (9 seats).The representative was absent because of their separate views on how the billions should be shared. (According to Mari Rantanen, the leader of the Finns Party’s council group, other parties want to grow the city almost as they were in heat. “Our services in early childhood education and others are stalling, and our policy on the growth of the city and running into debt differ from the others,” Rantanen said in an inteview with the daily newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.)
- Present was also Helsinki City Council member Marcus Rantala (the Swedish People’s Party). The SPP has 5 seats in the City Council.