After a whole day’s discussion, the City Council has adopted the 2018 budget of the City of Rijeka in the amount of HRK 1,059 billion, moreover 2019 and 2020 budgetary projections have been adopted. To the original draft budget, proposed by the mayor, part of amendments proposed by councillors have been inserted. The session was carried over into the next day due to numerous breaks.

The budget was adopted with 29 votes in favour, the councillors of the Croatian Democratic Union – HDZ voted against, at the moment of voting, the following councillors were not present in the City Hall: Hrvoje Burić (Indipendent List “Bura”) and Kristjan Staničić (HDZ).

The session was characterised by numerous breaks, set by the City Council president Tihomir Čordašev in order to reach agreement on possibilities to insert amendments into the draft budget, first of all, those concerning amendments worth 15 million signed by 11 councillors.

The mayor adopted a major part of amendments

After a series of alignments during the session, Rijeka mayor Vojko Obersnel, in accordance with the budgetary possibilities, adopted entirely or partially some amendments proposed by a group of councillors, he adopted entirely the amendments proposed by the councillors of the Croatian People’s Party (HNS) and one amendment proposed by the councillors of HDZ, while he refused the amendments proposed contrary to law or those that were not enforceable.

To the final draft budget the mayor inserted HRK 100 k more for maintaining the facilities of emergency accommodation, so that, to that end, in 2018, HRK 500 k would be provided. To refurbish the Department of Haematology and the Department of Digestive Surgery of the Clinical Hospital Centre Rijeka, although this is not a city institution, HRK 2 million will be provided, in a manner that HRK 500 k will be projected in the city budget, while the remaining amount will be provided through donations of utility companies and societies (co)owned by the City. Although a group of councillors presented an amendment requesting that HRK 4.3 million be earmarked as a gift-voucher amounting to HRK 500, that would receive all the pupils attending primary schools in the territory of the city of Rijeka to help them buy textbooks and school accessories, the mayor pointed out that it would be more appropriate, due to the circumstances in which the budget was, to make provisions for socially disadvantaged categories, so that the Social Programme could include more citizens who would have the right to such assistance and increase the funds earmarked for that scope from HRK 1.2 to 2 million.

The proposal presented by a group of councillors asking monetary prizes for the most successful pupils and their mentors was partly accepted by the mayor, who explained that, in his opinion, monetary prizes were not the best solution for pupils, and he accepted rewarding again the mentors, and to this scope HRK 100 thousand would be budgeted next year.

After negotiations, the funds destined for cultural councils activities went up by HRK 40 thousand and next year HRK 100 thousand would be budgeted to that scope.

An amendment presented by the Croatian People’s Party was accepted. Owing to this amendment the funds budgeted to increase the standard of utility infrastructure increased by HRK 1.8 million, out of which HRK 800 thousand for green areas, while HRK 1 million for cleaning public transport areas.

The following day the City Council adopted other documents related to the budget

After the City Council of the City of Rijeka had adopted the 2018 budget, it was announced that the session would continue the next day. Then the accompanying programmes of public necessities in the field of culture, sports and technical culture were adopted, as well as, the amending budget for the current year. Also, a report on the performance of the Croatian National Theatre Ivan pl. Zajc in 2016 was adopted and the pre-emption right relating to the interest held in the football club HNK Rijeka worth HRK 58 million was not exercised.

The City Council also adopted other accompanying 2018 budget documents – The Programme for the construction of utility infrastructure facilities and devices in the amount of HRK 14.6 million and the Utility Infrastructure Maintenance Programme worth HRK 88.3 million, which integral part includes the amendment put forward by the councillors of the Croatian People’s Party, according to which, the funds dedicated to the cleaning of public transport areas and maintaining green areas, playgrounds and public fountains, by redistributing current income, grew by HRK 1.8 million.

The City Council adopted other budget related documents – The Plan for the distribution of funds dedicated to utility priorities in the territory of the local boards in the amount of HRK 11.6 million, the Plan for the distribution of funds dedicated to the monument annuity worth HRK 10 million, decisions on the distribution of HRK one million to finance political parties and members elected from the group voting ticket represented in the City Council, as well as the decision on the financing of the Council and the representatives of national minorities, for which HRK 541 thousand was set aside in the budget.

The City Council adopted the Amending Budget for 2017 with the accompanying documents – amendments to the programme of public necessities in the field of culture, sports and technical culture, the plan for the distribution of funds dedicated to the monument annuity, the programme for the construction and maintenance of utility infrastructure and the decision on the financing of primary schools. Due to amendments, the 2017 budget was reduced by HRK 62.1 million or 6.5 %, and it now amounts to HRK 886.1 million. This income reduction was mostly influenced by the tax reform and the unrealised swap between land and receipts deriving from financial assets and borrowings.

The councillors of the Croatian Democratic Union voted against, pointing out, the same as on the occasion of the adoption of the 2018 budget, that they could not support the budget which, in their opinion, had not been fairly planned, while projects were being prolonged year after year. Councillor Vojko Braut (SDP) emphasised that it was not the fault of the City of Rijeka that the preparation of projects which required numerous licences to be obtained, lasted for years, while mayor Vojko Obersnel explained that the amending budget only specified the sequence of events of the current year.

Adopted a new Market Order for the Rijeka markets

The City Council adopted the new decision on Market Order, which modifications started after the city company Rijeka plus had taken market management from the concessioner. As pointed out by the head of the Utility Service Department, Irena Miličević, when drawing up draft decisions, special attention had been given to the proposals of the local board “Luka” and current lessees in the markets, where one part of proposals had been included in the final draft decision. During public consultations on public order, 14 proposals were received, but most of them had no regard to the decision. On the other hand, a proposal was adopted whereby deleting from the draft decision a possibility to give the points of sale to sub-lease, to avoid the possibility to sell a point of sale to which the City of Rijeka would not be able to influence, and this was approved by the club of the Croatian Democratic Union, which therefore supported the new decision on Market Order.

The City Council approved the decision to take part in the capital increase of the company Žičara Učka (Cable car) with HRK 100 thousand, whereby giving further support to the project of constructing a cable car up to the Učka mountain, as a project important for the development of tourism in the whole region. This capital increase will provide funds for preparing the main project, which is a precondition for participation in tendering procedures in order to obtain EU funding or for encouraging interested private investors to invest in the construction of the cable car.

Withdrawal of the City from the pre-emption right of the FC “Rijeka”

The City Council supported the mayor’s proposal to refuse exercising of the pre-emption right relating to HRK 58 million worth shares that the foundation Social Sport from the Netherlands holds in the Croatian Football Club Rijeka. In 2012, all the debts of the club towards the Republic of Croatia were transferred to the City of Rijeka as an equity interest, and during the privatisation process, the City sold 70% of its interest to the foundation, keeping a controlling interest.

“After five years of successful cooperation, Social Sport decided to withdraw from Croatia and it submitted its offer for the sale of its interest to the City of Rijeka, which in accordance with the concluded agreement is entitled to a pre-emption right. I propose to refuse the offer, thus providing an opportunity for Social Sport to sell its interest to other interested partners“ said mayor Obersnel, adding that, in accordance with information available to him, company Teanna from London, owned by the family of the club president Damir Mišković was interested in the purchase of that interest.

The mayor supported the proposal put forward by the City Council president Tihomir Čordašev, who proposed, on behalf of the club Youth Action – Živi zid (Human Shield), that the City of Rijeka should keep a controlling interest of 25 % plus one share, and the residual to be offered to fans, which would be possible only after having implemented the majority stake sales procedure. He reminded the audience that during the signing of the agreement with Social Sport he had announced the sale of shares to fans.