The first year of Sergei Sobyanin’s leadership was remembered by Muscovites with scattered sidewalks in the center: they were paved with tiles. The authorities explained the need to replace asphalt with the concern for the health of Muscovites: they say that harmful substances are emitted during asphalt laying, and the tile is environmentally friendly. “Of course, it’s uncomfortable, but it’s temporary, and two weeks after the end of work no one will remember about it,” Sobyanin said in an interview with Vedomosti in 2011. But the work lasted for years.
In 2015, authorities launched a new project, “My Street”. On the mayor’s website, it is called “the largest beautification project in the modern history of Moscow”, whose task is “to create a comfortable urban environment and make Moscow a place convenient for life”. As a result, since 2011, authorities have spent more than 1.5 trillion rubles on a comfortable life, according to Moscow budget data. The rest of Russia spent about the same amount on improvement (1.7 trillion rubles).
For 10 months of 2019, under the article “Landscaping”, the city mastered 281 billion rubles. This is more than the federal budget spent on the construction of the Crimean bridge (228 billion rubles), comparable to the budgets of the Krasnodar Territory, Tatarstan or Sverdlovsk Region. And not much less than the capital spends on the construction of the metro and new roads (319.3 billion rubles).
The development of infrastructure was named the priority of the new leadership of Moscow in 2010, Sobyanin correctly redirected budget expenditures on infrastructure, as it was developing at a slow pace, commented economist Natalya Zubarevich. But she calls such an increase in expenditures for improvement “not very normal”: for nine months the city allocated 15% of all budget expenditures for this and they exceeded all expenditures of the city for education. Zubarevich explains this with the growth of city incomes: if in 2011 they amounted to 1.13 trillion rubles, then in 2020 they are expected to reach 2.8 trillion rubles. “What Moscow is collecting now is fantastic. The money was directed to infrastructure, but it turned out that they could not be spent on it. And it was necessary to spend, so as not to take the center, ”she said.
“I am often asked when the My Street program will end. I answer: never. "
Moscow Deputy Mayor for Housing and Public Utilities
The Finance Ministry and City Hall have repeatedly tried to agree that the federal authorities will not take any income from the city, a federal official says, but so far it has not been able to secure such an agreement and Moscow cannot get firm guarantees.
For example, Moscow stated that it could lose about 28 billion rubles. due to an increase in the federal share of income tax from 2 to 3 percentage points from 20% in 2017–2020. - This money was used to support poor regions. “There are subjects of Russia (for example, Moscow) which receive large volumes of resources through profit. If we centralize part of the income tax, we can collect this income from regions that use, for example, metropolitan functions, ”said Finance Minister Anton Siluanov at SPIEF.
In September 2018, he proposed fixing the terms of intergovernmental relations until 2024. “Such golden words must be carved in stone,” Sobyanin replied and promised to find a suitable place for this in Moscow. But since then the problem has not been resolved, and the financial conditions of the regions are becoming tougher, it is not surprising that the city is easier to spend more money than fear that its income will be taken away, the official admits.
“Moscow has a very strong financial position due to the growth of tax revenues, there are free funds. And beautification is such an expense item where you can quickly show the result. Here, the opportunities coincided with the desire to demonstrate how the Moscow authorities take care of residents, such a business card, ”comments Vladimir Redkin, Fitch senior director.
The more the city invests in infrastructure, the better, the urbanist Pyotr Kudryavtsev is sure. In his opinion, Moscow, like any post-Soviet city, did not actually engage in the development of streets, squares, parks, embankments all the second half of the 20th century, now we have to fill this gap. “The development of public spaces affects the investment attractiveness of the city, over the years these investments will return,” Kudryavtsev said. A representative of the Perm administration agrees with him: “In Perm, up to 20% of the budget is spent on beautification, this includes overhaul of houses, courtyards, parks, public spaces, landscaping, road maintenance. This affects the mood of people, their attitude to themselves and to the region is no less than the cost of education and health. " There are positive changes from beautification in Moscow - for example, sidewalks have been expanded, says Maxim Katz, co-founder of City Projects. But from the point of view of the size of the investment, it is not clear where such money was spent, Katz notes: perhaps the expenses are associated with excessive work on replacing asphalt and curbs, which Muscovites complain about.
Despite huge investments, Moscow took 52nd place among 100 Russian cities where it is comfortable and not very expensive to live in the ranking of the Urbanika Institute of Spatial Planning, RBC wrote. In November, the federal authorities made their own rating, and Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko called Moscow the most comfortable city.
By the time of publication in the Moscow government, the Vedomosti request had not been answered.