Financial outlook for the City Region Turnhout
The City Region Turnhout is a partnership between Turnhout, Beerse, Oud-Turnhout and Vosselaar. Due to the central location of Turnhout in a rather remote region, combined with historical evolutions and certain policy choices, the city grew into a full-fledged central city. However, the number of residents (40,000) is quite small in comparison to the extensive range of services, institutions and infrastructure for the broader environment. Comparisons with other Flemish central cities has shown that the service level of the city better suits the number of residents in the City Region (80,000).
The central role of the City Region is evident in the area of economy, safety, mobility, education, care and well-being. With respect to culture and leisure the situation is more nuanced. The appeal of the cultural centre De Warrande in Turnhout is great, but the central role for other leisure activities such as sports is more spread out over the different municipalities.
The Noorderkempen as catchment area
The catchment area of the City Region was mapped out on the basis of the six above-mentioned central functions. Although the appeal of the City Region differs per central function, it was possible to identify a catchment area of 12 municipalities (including the City Region) using an overall analysis. This area includes approximately 180,000 residents and consists of Arendonk, Baarle-Hertog, Beerse, Kasterlee, Lille, Merksplas, Oud-Turnhout, Ravels, Retie, Rijkevorsel, Turnhout, Vosselaar.
The cost price of the central function
To compute the financial implications of this central function, a comparison was made between the expenditure and revenue of the municipalities in the City Region regarding the examined central functions. These were then compared with the hypothetical situation in which the expenditure and revenue would be distributed over all municipalities in the catchment area.
This analysis shows that the net balance differed greatly per central function. The domains with the most pronounced expenditure are 'safety' and 'care and well-being'. In these areas, Turnhout and the City Region show a significantly higher net expenditure than the municipalities in the catchment areas. ‘Culture and leisure' is a domain with a significant negative balance, but the central function is less pronounced and more evenly distributed across all the municipalities in the catchment area. The net costs for mobility and education are lower, since a large portion of the expenditure is compensated by subsidies from the central governments. Economy is an important source of revenue for all municipalities. These are also higher than the average in the catchment area in Turnhout, Beerse and the City Region as a whole.
Across the six investigated central functions the expenditure per resident for Turnhout and the City Region is significantly higher than for the other municipalities in the catchment area. The bulk of these extra costs are however compensated by the municipality funds and the city funds. A smaller part is compensated through local taxation.