Now also Reppenstedt has abolished the unpopular street extension contributions, an often sensitively high financial participation of the residents in the costs for repair of roads and ways. The other Gellerser municipalities had already done this years ago, in the much larger Reppenstedt the discussion about funding lasted longer. The reason was the weighing of several models, because the council had been in agreement for a good ten years that no more contribution notices should be sent out (which did not happen during this time). Alone, none of the models is really unconditionally good.
Model "property tax"
In principle, the "property tax" model was already on the tables of the constituent municipalities in 2012. However, due to a legal dispute, the issue has been postponed indefinitely for the time being. According to this model, road expansion contributions are completely waived. Instead, the property tax is raised to such an extent that the additional revenue can be used to finance the repairs. The burden is therefore distributed among all residents. Besides, the administration saves a lot of work, because the settlement of contributions is complex and is often decided only in court. The disadvantage is that taxes cannot be levied for a specific purpose and the additional revenue must first be used to balance the budget and could therefore not be fully available for road maintenance. In the prosperous Reppenstedt a rather theoretical problem. In addition, a good part of the property taxes goes to the joint municipality and the district, which therefore earn a little bit from each increase.
Model "recurring contributions
The model "recurring contributions" exists in Lower Saxony only since 2017 and is only at first glance superior to the property tax increase. Contributions can be levied on an earmarked basis, and in this particular construct the financial burden is shared on several shoulders, namely the shoulders of those who live in the same of the previously defined settlement areas. Settled may be so at most 80% of the cost of the measure, but even that only if the benefit to the general public is not actually greater 20%. In the corridors of specialized law firms, the champagne corks must have been popping, while the judges of the OVG probably had crying fits. Joking aside: The new §6c of the Lower Saxony Municipal Charges Act (NKAG) offers plenty of opportunities for legal action, and the obligation to divide Reppenstedt into settlement areas. Mark Stark, for the Greens in the building committee, referred not only to the administrative burden, but also to the emotional aspect: "If we divide Reppenstedt into settlement areas, Dachtmissen even still as a separate area, we are then still one Reppenstedt?"
The model "StrABS ersatzlos abreichen"
The model "cancel StrABS without replacement" is an idea that the FDP has been peddling for a few years now. Sounds too good at first glance: the state (and indirectly the federal government) should bear the costs of road renovation in the future. The only problem is that the municipalities would no longer be able to decide what measures they want to take to maintain their infrastructure; instead, a state authority would interfere with the municipalities' very own sphere of activity. How much money would be available to whom was decided by the state parliament and the state government. If a minister of economics blocked a few million to pretend that he wanted to build a bridge over the Elbe, the municipalities would no longer have any influence on it. Purely theoretical example of course.
The discussion about which of these models would be the best for Reppenstedt lasted for several years. An expert opinion was prepared, a working group formed. Finally, all the arguments had been exchanged, and everyone had -well-informed- formed their opinion. Nevertheless, nothing was decided, because black and red in the majority group were not of the same opinion. It was only at the request of the Greens that the debate was finally resumed last September in the building committee, continued in the non-public administrative committee and concluded on Thursday in the municipal council. 7 councillors from the CDU and SOLI voted for the "recurring contributions" model, 11 from the Greens, SPD and FDP for the "property tax" model.
Oliver Glodzei, faction spokesman for the Greens clarified once again before the vote: "Whichever variant we decide on here right away, and the decision will be close: The Reppenstedt council is united in the goal of abolishing the one-time road extension contribution payments, which are perceived by many as unfair."
With the Greens, the issue has now also reached the state level. In the run-up to the online delegates meeting in November, there were talks between the district association and the state executive board about the demand for an earmarked source of revenue for the municipalities that can replace the residents' contributions without driving the municipalities into legal adventures.
Until the state creates such a solution, we believe we have found the best solution for Reppenstedt at this time.