Rechnungshof

Audits by the ACA: large-scale events in Vienna, Bad Ischl (Upper Austria) and equity investments of Waidhofen an der Ybbs (Lower Austria)

25.10.2019 - Large-scale events in Vienna are largely financed by the City of Vienna  

Gebäude des Rechnungshofes  - Copyright: RH

Today the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) presented the following reports:

  • Selected Large-Scale Events in Vienna
  • Municipality Bad Ischl
  • Parking deck shares and parking space management in the city of Waidhofen an der Ybbs

Every year, the City of Vienna hosts large-scale events, which are financed via subsidies. Amongst such events are the Vienna Danube Island Festival (Donauinselfest), the Vienna City Festival and the cultural festival “Wienwoche”. These events are related to different political parties.

The ACA’s auditors carried out an audit of such large-scale events from February to May 2018. The audit focused in particular on events staged in front of and in the City Hall, such as the Life Ball. At the Stadt Wien Marketing GmbH, the ACA audited the Film Festival on the Rathausplatz, the Vienna Christmas Dream and the New Year’s Eve Trail (Silvesterpfad). Of the latter, the Christmas market and the ice-skating rink “Wiener Eistraum” were excluded in agreement with the City of Vienna Court of Audit. 

Vienna Danube Festival: no checks of invoices 

As regards the different events, the City of Vienna subsidised the respective associations that organized them. The Verein Wiener Kulturservice (association Vienna cultural service) received EUR 1.81 million per year. Apart from the Vienna Danube Festival, it organized events such as the First of May Festival in the Viennese Prater. In respect of the Verein Wiener Kulturservice, the ACA transmitted the audit result (draft report) also to the Independent Political Parties Transparency Panel.

In the years from 2014 to 2016, the organizer of the Vienna Danube Festival (the Vienna Social Democratic Party) charged the Verein Wiener Kulturservice parts of the costs incurred for the events, which totalled about EUR 407,000. The Verein Wiener Kulturservice paid all invoices of the organizer despite the fact that numerous costs charged were not properly documented and that it was not ascertainable whether the eligibility criteria of the Municipal Department for Cultural Affairs (MA 7) had been met.

The Verein zur Förderung der Stadtbenutzung (association for the promotion of city use) received EUR 453,000 per year for the cultural festival “Wienwoche”, and the Verein Wiener Stadtfeste (association Vienna city festivals) received, with the exception of 2016, EUR 406,000 for the Vienna City Festival. The Cultural Department of the City of Vienna submitted to the municipal council funding applications of the three associations without having assessed their eligibility. Furthermore, the use of the funds in the sense of achieving the funding goals was often not comprehensible or deficient. The ACA recommended to the City of Vienna to comprehensively examine the charged expenditure items of the three associations. If the subsidies had not been used for their intended purpose, they would have to be reclaimed from the associations.

No rental fees at the Rathausplatz – high share of financing of the City of Vienna 

In the years from 2014 to 2017, the number of events staged on the Rathausplatz totalled 83. Although the City of Vienna financed the maintenance of the square, it did not charge a rent for the events. Furthermore, the city had no access to the documents of the organizer and therefore was not able to ascertain a possible financial success of an event. The City of Vienna left the Rathausplatz – especially when it came to financially promising events held at seasonal favourable times – always to the same event organizers. 

For the Film Festival on the Rathausplatz, the catering partner paid annual licence fees of EUR 240,000 to the Stadt Wien Marketing GmbH. In the years from 2014 to 2017, the financing share of the City of Vienna was between 54.8 and 66.2 per cent. The ACA critically pointed to the high financing share of the City of Vienna for event services although the catering services of the events in particular offered additional earnings potential. As regards the New Year’s Eve Trail, which takes place on several locations in the city centre, the financing share of the City of Vienna was between 77.1 and 81.6 per cent. 

The ACA therefore recommended to collect rental fees for the Rathausplatz that is adequate to its attractiveness. Exceptions should be made only for the events held by the city and its institutions or for events held jointly with the city or its institutions. Furthermore, the ACA recommended to the City of Vienna to claim an adequate share in a possible financial success of an event.

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Report: Selected Large-Scale Events in Vienna

From February to May 2018, the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) carried out an audit of selected large-scale events in Vienna. The audit focused on the subsidies provided by the City of Vienna for the Vienna Danube Island Festival (Donauinselfest), the cultural festival “Wienwoche”, the Vienna City Festival and for events staged in front of and in the Vienna City Hall in the framework of the Life Ball. The ACA also audited the Stadt Wien Marketing GmbH with regard to the Film Festival on the Rathausplatz, the Vienna Christmas Dream and the New Year’s Eve Trail (Silvesterpfad). The audited period essentially spanned the years from 2014 through 2017.

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Report: Municipality of Bad Ischl

From June to October 2018, the Austrian Court of Audit carried out an audit of Bad Ischl, a municipality with some 14,000 inhabitants in Upper Austria. The audit focused on the finances and equity investments as well as on the charges for water, wastewater and waste. The audited period essentially spanned the years from 2012 through 2017.

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Central recommendations

  1. A balanced budget should be ensured in a sustainable manner and debts should be incurred in a restrictive way.
  2. In the framework of medium-term financial planning, more focus should be put on the planning of investment projects at the end of the planning period.
  3. The already implemented standards on the security of financial management should be evaluated on a regular basis with regard to their effectiveness and aptness and, if need be, adapted accordingly.
  4. The water supply concept should be revised as soon as possible and the necessary construction measures should be taken quickly.
  5. The lawful use of the surplus charges should be guaranteed immediately; withdrawals not spent for municipal purposes should be channelled back into the municipal budget that is funded through charges.
  6. Multiannual strategic provisions and goals should be established for majority shareholdings, which, then, should be used as management instruments.


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Report: Parking Deck Shares and Parking Space Management in the City of Waidhofen an der Ybbs

From April to September 2018, the Austrian Court of Audit (ACA) carried out an audit of the city of Waidhofen an der Ybbs (Lower Austria). The audit of the Parkdeck GmbH was based on a random sample. The audit focused on the shareholdings in a parking deck and in a hotel as well as on the parking space management. The audit aimed at assessing the taking over of the “Das Schloss” Parkdeck–Errichtungs– und Betriebs GmbH (ParkdeckGmbH) by the city and the fulfilment of the company purpose, the sound management, the economic situation and the financing of the Parkdeck GmbH, the economic relations of the city with the original parking deck operator and the parking space situation in the city. The audited period essentially spanned the years from 2013 through 2017.

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Central recommendations

  1. Financial provisions should be made for the due residual instalment for the repayment of the loan of the “Das Schloss” Parkdeck–Errichtungs– und Betriebs GmbH.
  2. Prior to the conclusion of contracts, the relevant stakeholders should obtain the necessary approval of the municipal council and the municipal supervision in compliance with the statutory value limits.
  3. Future projects should be realised based on a market research and transparent public procurement – in harnessing the benefits of competition – in order to ensure an economical and efficient use of public funds.
  4. With regard to future projects, the city should ensure participation, supervision and control rights that correspond to the financial risk. In particular, measures should be taken in order to guarantee that the contractors have the required financial, technical and economic capacities. Contractual penalties should be provided for in the event of delays in the provision of services.
  5. Risks related to parking space management should be identified and assessed jointly with the “Das Schloss” Parkdeck–Errichtungs– und Betriebs GmbH. Based on that, the process initiated with regard to improving the internal controls should be continued. In this regard, clear provisions should be laid down in a written and obligatory manner.
  6. An integration of the activities of the Parkdeck GmbH in the municipal budget should be assessed in taking into consideration all the economic and tax benefits and disadvantages.