German federal government sponsors the questionable rebuilding of a military church in Potsdam’s city center with 12m euros. Simultaneously the same city’s local government fails to get a 4m federal funding for a dozen of social projects, including three community centers.
12m v 4m.
Potsdam is among the most beautiful cities in Germany; beyond or maybe due to its green landscape and world heritage buildings a 30 minutes local train ride away from Berlin it is also among the fastest growing ones in Germany.
But here is the actual story: Recently German federal government has announced that a foundation aiming at rebuilding a military church in the city center (Garnisonkirche) may expect a 12m funding, soon. Given the fact that Potsdam is home to Sanssouci, the royal palace of the former Prussian king Frederick the Great, as well as a dozen of other architectural landmarks, this rebuilding is plainly senseless. Even more given the fact that Potsdam’s city government lacks funding for implementing social policy programs that will increase well-being of community members. Given this common lack of funding beyond social entitlement induced by federal legislation (also see a past blog post on this issue last month) the city’s social policy department applied for funding from a new federal program on social integration. They hoped for funding for three community centers, and measures to integrate migrants. However, they reportedly failed to pass even the first round of the selection process.
Now, this might simply coincide by random; the purpose of expert review is to sort out poor project applications. Maybe. To me this anectode sheds light on two issues: poor local public finances and weird intergovernmental relationships. Since the latest round of constitutional reform in 2009 federal government is not allowed to directly fund local government task fullfillment. By declaring the rebuilding of a military church an issue of national interest federal government by-passes this notion and dumbs 12m of tax payers money (12m do cover only the very first stage of construction, given a lack of proper consequential funding, and widespread opposition from civil society this project is very likely of never being accomplished). Meanwhile local social policy departments across the country continue to waste their spare time and womenpower to beg for peanuts in an attempt to do some useful things on the ground. Weird.