Swiss village angry over tax increase to support just 1 refugee family
Just over 1,000 people live in the village of Hagenbuch, which is forced to spend over 60,000 Swiss francs (around US$64,000 euro) a month on the family – 30 percent of the monthly expenses for the entire village.
The authorities are pondering a tax increase of at least 5 percent, Blick newspaper reported.
“I don’t know where to turn. I think we have no other choice but to raise taxes,” Mayor Therese Schlaepfer told the daily.
She also expressed her anger at the fact that immigrants have only rights and no obligations. According to the mayor’s words, the situation is causing the obvious outrage of the villagers as well.
A woman from Eritrea and her seven children moved to the quiet village three years ago, with a visa allowing her to stay in Switzerland for five years, and the possibility to extend it later.
The municipal government immediately took responsibility for paying her rent and also gave the family 2,600 francs a month to cover living expenses.
Other villagers are not happy with the situation. "Our citizens have to pay a lot in taxes, and the third of the local money goes just to one family. There are plenty of families in Switzerland who do not have much to live on, but they get by. This seems wrong to us. The government has to do something," a local woman said.
Another Hagenbuch resident thinks that with the amount of money paid to the family per month, "much more could be done, either in Africa or in Switzerland. They could help far more than seven people. It simply makes no sense."
It also turned out that the mother was quite overwhelmed with family commitments, so four kids were sent to an orphanage, where they’re kept at the authorities’ expense as well. The government spends 9,000 francs on each per month.
Additionally, social workers have been assisting the woman with groceries shopping, cooking and cleaning. Plus, they helped to take the children to various guided tours and to the zoo.
"We are cleaners and we don't think it's right to clean their apartment. The lady could do it herself, she has a whole day free," an elderly woman commented.
On average, the workers spend six hours a day, 25 days a month. These carers cost the budget 135 francs per hour, with weekends and evenings pushing the rate to 145 francs per hour.
“An impossible situation. I’m a resident, but still forced to cut my costs,” the mayor remarked.
It comes after a scandal a few days earlier, when the Bern police chief used the politically-incorrect term ‘Negerbubli’, referring to black immigrants. Blick reported that the officials of such rank should make no such slip of the tongue.