Municipalities await budget surplus for 2016
2016 is shaping up to be a banner year for most of Sweden's municipalities, according to a survey by Swedish Radio News. Nearly nine out of 10 local councils say they expect a budget surplus and won't raise taxes.
The report surveyed Sweden's 290 municipalities about their local economies and labor markets in 2016. 254 municipalities, or about 87.5 percent, responded.
Nearly 90 percent are planning for surpluses this year and holding municipal taxes steady. Just more than one in 10 municipalities believe they'll see unemployment growth over the next year. Four municipalities, or about 2 percent of respondents, said they would see a budget shortfall while 29, or about 12 percent, anticipated having a balanced budget.
The cheery outlook is shared by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SKL), an employers' association that advocates for local government in Sweden.
"We have stable growth of the tax base in the municipalities so the income side looks very positive for 2016," says SKL's chief economist Bettina Kashefi.
The group says, in addition to a generally strong economy, an extra roughly SEK 8 billion promised by the state to help municipalities cope with the refugee situation.
But the good news may be short-lived, according to SKL. Many municipalities are already projecting increased costs due to the influx of refugees and an aging population as well as slower job growth in 2017.
"After 2016 we are heading toward a very tough situation for the municipalities," Kashefi tells Radio Sweden.