There is nothing quite like the feeling of sticking your hand into the pocket of an old jacket or pair of trousers and finding a crumpled 100 kroner note you had forgotten was there.
Imagine then what city officials must be feeling now that they have found nearly 900 million unused kroner.
The council used 872 million kroner less than it budgeted for in 2011. After some early political posturing and disagreement about how to handle the money, the council has voted to use 330 million kroner of the windfall to renovate ten schools around Copenhagen.
The agreement received the support of politicians from nearly every major party.
The planned renovation of the schools includes not just cosmetic improvements, but what Copenhagen mayor Frank Jensen called “attic-to-basement” reconstruction, including better heating and cooling systems.
“We have already renovated six schools and now we have the funds to renovate ten more,” Jensen said in a statement. “My goal is that all 58 of our public schools are totally renovated in the next few years.”
Copenhagen’s deputy mayor for children and youth, Anne Vang (Socialdemokraterne) agreed with Jensen’s plan to completely renovate a few schools, rather than scatter smaller amounts of money to every school in the municipality.
“It makes sense to use the 330 million kroner on fewer schools and get them finished,” said Vang (S) to Politiken newspaper. “It will cost less in the long run and children won’t spend their entire school career on a building site.”
Socialdemokraterne (S) were early supporters of using the money on schools.
“Our priority has always been school renovations,” said spokesperson Jesper Christiansen (S). “We have a backlog of schools that need help and we must see to it that students in Copenhagen attend the most modern schools possible.”
Along with the planned school improvements, funds have also been earmarked to abolish the forced two-week shutdown of daycares in the city.
"It was very important for us to eliminate the closure weeks so that parents themselves can decide when they will take holiday," Rasmus Jarlov, a Konservative representative on the council, told Politiken newspaper.
Other funds will be used to renovate nursing homes and other municipal institutions, as well as to make improvements, including better cycling lanes, to Nørrebrogade. The money could also even result in cheaper beer at outdoor cafés and restaurants.
Additionally, 60 million kroner will go towards creating new parking spaces throughout the city.
Although Jarlov had earlier been on record as saying that he thought the windfall should be returned directly to taxpayers, he told Politiken that the parking spaces were a good idea.
“People with cars also live in Copenhagen. We need more parking spaces,” he said.
Jensen said he was pleased with the council’s decision.
“I am very pleased that a broad majority in City Hall took responsibility for creating better schools, improving conditions for the elderly and creating jobs.”
Factfile | School renovations
Tove Ditlevsens School
Øster Farimagsgades School