What is the new City Services budget and will it be implemented?

Oct 22, 2022 | Organisation & governance, Statements by the RA and the Working groups

Dear Community,


The BCC had been engaged for months in preparing a new “City Services” budget, after 2 years dedicated to financially surviving the Covid lockdown.


What was our budgeting process this year?
We felt it was a good time to raise awareness in the community about the City Services budget: what services it supports, in which areas of community activity (such as health, education, farms etc.), and who do these serve. We held a community budgeting process earlier this year to share this information and harvest inputs on our collective needs and priorities. The process and its outcomes were shared with the community via the Auronetand in the N&N. 


We kept the outcomes of the community budgeting process in mind as we reviewed all budget requests. We also opened the City Services budgeting process to new requests. We prioritised new service or increased support requests that aligned with the collective needs and priorities that emerged from the process. In sectors where budgetary reductions were suggested, we reached out and met with relevant services to see how their activities could be redirected to meet community needs in the coming year, or how they could use the upcoming year to reorganise themselves and reduce their budgetary requirements / transition to other sources of support. 


We thank the resource persons that helped us review these budgets: former BCC members we reached out to for support, as well as community members enthusiastic to learn about this work. 


Why hasn’t the new budget started yet?
As per the BCC mandate, the budget is to be approved by the FAMC. We first reached out to the FAMC of the Residents’ Assembly in June to begin this process. However, this coincided with the forming of a second FAMC by the Governing Board of the Auroville Foundation, and approval of the budget was delayed as a result. By September, we had secured the approval of the RA FAMC, but meanwhile the BCC had been replaced by a Budget Coordination Service (BCS), challenging our capacity to operate, and implement the new budget. 


What is the new budget and will it be implemented?
The RA FAMC-approved City Services budget is available online at this link. A hard copy can be viewed during BCC office hours. We do not know if disbursements made by the Budget Coordination Service under the purview of the GB FAMC will follow these allocations.


Any services who are receiving less than the amounts approved by the RA BCC and FAMC are welcome to reach out to the RA BCC, who will attempt to fundraise in order to cover the shortfall.


Any services who have questions about the amounts allocated to them are welcome to meet us during our office hours, held on Tuesdays from 10:30AM – 12:00PM & 2:30PM-3:30PM at the Council meeting room in the Town Hall.


A few things we would like to point out about the new budget are:
 
1) Increased support in the 3 highest priority sectors identified by the community budgeting process: Farms & Food, Social Support, Housing


Farms & Food: We included 3 new budgeted services in the Farms & Food sector – Aruvadai, FoodLink and the Solar Kitchen. Aruvadai is a new service to support the planning, distribution and consumption of Auroville farm produce; while FoodLink and the Solar Kitchen were previously self-supporting services. We have also included partial support for Saragam, given their work in assisting the distribution of Auroville farm produce. We regret that we were unable to budget for a much needed grant for farm infrastructure due to lack of funds and unclarity regarding the future of existing farms, following an announced restructure to small plots. 
 
Housing: We increased the Housing Repair grant allocation to above pre-Covid levels.
 
Social Support: We increased the availability of both Childrens’ Maintenances and Adult Maintenances, and planned for a 10% increase in the Adult Maintenances, from Rs. 17,000 to Rs. 18,700 (Full Time amounts).


2) The inclusion of new services engaged in priority areas identified as missing during the community budgeting process: Day Care/Maternity Support & Food Processing
 
Day Care / Maternity Support: We newly included support for Morning Star (a service providing midwifery, gynaecology, lactation consulting, doula service, childbirth education, and family counselling and education) as part of the City Services budget. 
 
Food Processing: The three new services mentioned in the Farms & Food sector above each engage in / support food processing. 


3) Increased support in mid-priority sectors identified by the community budgeting process: Municipal Services, Health and Forest


Municipal Services: We increased budgetary support to EcoService and Pour Tous Water to support their general functioning, Puncture Service for the addition of free mechanical services, Road Service to carry out free road repairs beyond the city centre. We also included new services in this sector: 

  • WaterLink, a new service that would support Auroville in becoming a water-conscious society, by monitoring water levels, assisting water-related projects and organisation, and providing an educational interface related to water in Auroville.
  • PTPS, which is in the process of transitioning towards a non-profit service.
  • Solar & UPS Service, which services solar and UPS systems.

 
Forest: We increased budgetary support to the Forest Group for wages of forest employees, most of which is currently paid for by forest stewards from private funds. 
 
Health: We included three new services in the Health Sector: 

  • Mattram, providing mental health support.
  • Morning Star, providing maternity support and more (see above).
  • Aurokiya, providing eye care. (Aurokiya requested and is being allocated only temporary support of 1 – 2 years to establish itself). 



Overall, we would like to observe that income to City Services does not enable us to cover the basic needs of Aurovilians. For this reason, we have urged the RA FAMC to look into ways of increasing City Services income. However, we understand that the present uncertainty regarding the management of these City Services funds is not encouraging. The City Services budget is currently deficient, income lower than disbursements. 


As a team, we are committed to continuing to explore possible developments and improvements related to the guidelines, management and review of the use of City Services funds towards supporting the realisation of Auroville’s ideals.


Sincerely,

Your BCC members (Aurosugan, Danny, Enrica, Hans, Mahi, Rathinam, Sacha, Suryamayi, Verena)


Contact us: [email protected] / [email protected]
Office Hours: Tuesdays 10:30AM-12:00PM drop in & 2:30PM-3:30PM by appointment @ Council meeting room, Town Hall.