Next year’s draft budget would “bleed Budapest out” even further, Budapest Mayor Gergely Karácsony said in a Facebook post on Thursday. Government support for the city would come to 34.5 billion forints (EUR 9.4bn), up from 33 billion this year, meaning that the real value of the funding would decrease, he said. At the same time, the solidarity tax imposed on the city would increase from 58 billion to 75 billion forints, he said. “This year, the city funded the government with 25 billion forints; next year, that funding would be over 40 billion,” he said. That money could ensure the city’s operation for 82 days, he noted. Meanwhile, the draft budget would also cut funding for “activities and services in localities and communities” by one-fifth, “exposing the lie” that the solidarity tax levelled at cities would help support smaller localities, he said. Environmental protection, social services and railways would also suffer, making the budget “not just anti-Budapest but an anti-municipality one”, he said. Karácsony called on Budapest residents to give their opinions in an ongoing online survey on the city’s affairs. “The extraordinary situation warrants extraordinary measures: we will take the government to court. We will prove not only that the anti-Budapest policy is harmful for the country but also that it is unlawful,” he said.
The government information centre (KTK) said in reaction that Karácsony had “bankrupted the country’s richest local council”. In a statement, the KTK said Karácsony “forgot to post about where the 214 billion forints in reserves former mayor István Tarlós left the city with disappeared to”. Thanks to Hungary’s economic growth, Budapest is seeing an unprecedented increase in business tax revenue, the KTK said, arguing that revenues this year were expected to rise to 271.6 billion forints compared with 164 billion in 2019, and increase even further next year. They said “[Democratic Coalition leader] Ferenc Gyurcsány’s people have captured every position in City Hall, insisting that Karácsony “is attacking the government at Gyurcsány’s instruction”.