In a context of increased personnel costs, the energy crisis and the obligation for the Province to finance the Brabant reception zone in Walloon Brabant for an amount of 10.8 million euros, the provincial council qualified the “particularly difficult” exercise. But the provincial budget for 2023 is balanced without having to lay off staff and without affecting provincial taxes, which remain the lowest in Wallonia.
However, the MR-PS college had to make certain choices: all missions and actions were scrutinized, refocusing on the support of the municipalities, which is part of the specific challenges of Walloon Brabant (fight against floods, sheltering the small youth, mobility, etc.), and professions in which the province has particular expertise (education, mental health, etc.). In some areas resources will be more concentrated and the departure of provincial officials will no longer lead to systematic replacements. The sale of buildings is also envisaged, and services that were previously free, such as room rental or access to certain events organized in provincial areas, will in the future be subject to prices, while remaining in a logic of public service and accessible to as many people as possible.
In the extraordinary heading of the 2023 provincial budget – 23.94 million euros in total – there is a total amount of 4.5 million euros for calls for projects to support municipalities in developing the bicycle network (1.25 million euros), flood control and mudslides (€500,000), senior care (€100,000), early childhood (€700,000) or even ecological networks (€300,000). A new call for projects has also been launched to provide up to EUR 1.25 million to municipalities wishing to finance eco-responsible infrastructure.
Maintenance of waterways
The province is also making 530,000 euros available for the maintenance of watercourses and 1.4 million euros for the construction of storm basins. The major infrastructure investment in this extraordinary 2023 budget is the major renovation of the Quai aux Huitres site at the IPES in Wavre, estimated at 13.41 million euros.
On the opposition side, DéFI expressed concern for the future and pointed to the withdrawals from the reserve funds. Écolo deplored the lack of clear choices by the majority who preferred to use the “cheese grater” technique and the Engagés deplored the lack of support for the associative sector and sports clubs. During the vote, Les Engagés and Défi voted no, while the elected ecologists abstained.