German town banks on lottery to help budget

17th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

17 February 2005, BLUMBERG - The small community of Blumberg near the border with Switzerland is banking on a win on Germany's national lottery to fill a large gap in its finances. The elected officials of this 10,660-strong community in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg are dipping into their own pay packets and expenses to fund the purchase of tickets for the twice-weekly draw. Thomas Lauble, who works in the community's financial office, is used to figures, but as the official responsible for

17 February 2005

BLUMBERG - The small community of Blumberg near the border with Switzerland is banking on a win on Germany's national lottery to fill a large gap in its finances.

The elected officials of this 10,660-strong community in the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg are dipping into their own pay packets and expenses to fund the purchase of tickets for the twice-weekly draw.

Thomas Lauble, who works in the community's financial office, is used to figures, but as the official responsible for the lottery ticket he watches none more closely than the seven numbers that come up in the lottery draw every Wednesday and Saturday.

The attempt to rescue the community's finances is thought to be unique in Germany.

Expectations of a big win can "naturally not be factored into the community finances", for legal reasons if for no other, as councillor Birgit Friederich makes clear. But just a few million euros would bring relief.

The rules of this unusual syndicate have been very clearly laid out, with each member signing an undertaking that any winnings will go into the community treasure chest.

The members of the syndicate have nevertheless left open what purpose the money will be put to, should they win big.

The syndicate has been running since the autumn of 2001, when the idea came up as the local council was holding one of its regular meetings in a pub.

The poor community finances were as usual depressing sentiment around the table, with no solution in sight apart from tax increases and further loans, until someone hit upon the lottery.

"Since that meeting we have played regularly," Lauble says.

Friederich says the community has been struggling for years to make ends meet. "We are used to cuts," she says. But, precisely because there have been so many cuts, there is nothing left to pare back.

Blumberg has a particular problem in having to operate its own sewerage system as a result of its location in picturesque but hilly countryside between the Black Forest and the Swiss border.

The community runs two costly purification works. "There is thus none of the synergy effect achieved by other small communities combining resources," Friederich says.

The result is that debt per head in the small community, with its website at www.stadt-blumberg.de, is running at 2,500 euros per head, more than two thirds coming from the water purification plants.

"This is well above the German average," the councillor says.

The lottery syndicate has won some money. Always small amounts, Lauble says, "but never millions".

He is reluctant to discuss the details of the lottery strategy. "We will make an announcement only once we have had a big win," Lauble promises.

DPA

Subject: German news 

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