Amsterdam local council is set to vote on a comprehensive spending package including the return of a grant for teachers, free public transport for children and more money for trees and planting, the Parool reported on Wednesday.
Coalition parties CDA, PvdA and GroenLinks, which have 24 of the 45 seats in the local council, had already tweaked the budget last month to free up more money for refugee accommodation, care organisations and combating rats but more needs to be done, they said.
The millions needed for the extra expenditure will come from higher taxes on tourist attractions and cruise ship passengers, the paper said.
The council has earmarked €1 million to support further training for teachers in an effort to make the profession more attractive and improve education quality. Amsterdam is currently struggling to find over 1,000 teachers for both primary and secondary education.
The grant, a repeat of a D66 initiative from 2015, may be slightly contentious since it was shot down by current education alderwoman Marjolein Moorman (PvdA) in 2019 for not being effective enough. Teachers at some 300 schools profited from the €2,000 grant at the time.
Free public transport for children from 4 to 11 has also been estimated to cost €1 million and another €1 million will go to measures to add more greenery to the capital’s streets. Children from poorer families will also have better access to homework support.
To finance the plans the tax on cruise passengers will be almost doubled, from €8 to €14 and another 50 cents will be added to the tourist tax paid by visitors to every attraction in the city.
That means the tax on festivals and events of more than 500 people will go up to €2 per ticket, while the tax on a canal cruise will rise to €2.50 per person, the Parool said.
Last month, finance chief Hester van Buren announced plans to put up the tax on cruise ship passengers to €11, but that is now set to increase even further. She also said the tax on overnight stays will go up to 12.5% of the cost of the hotel room,
In total, the city now expects to raise €65 million from tourist taxes next year.
Opposition party proposals such as the CDA’s suggestion to scrap plans for a bridge over the IJ waterway and invest in ferries instead are not expected to gain a majority. A VVD proposal to build small children’s paddle pools across the city may be in with a chance, the paper said.
Councillors are due to vote on the package on Thursday.
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