Street lighting bills in Bulgaria’s four largest cities – Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Bourgas – more than doubled on an annual basis in each of the last three months of 2021, a statement by Sofia municipality said on January 12.
The problem of soaring electricity bills was discussed by the mayors of the four cities: Yordanka Fandukova, Zdravko Dimitrov, Ivan Portnih and Dimitar Nikolov, the statement said.
In Sofia, the street lighting bill in November 2021 was more than 1.7 million leva, compared with 986 000 leva in November 2020, according to the statement, which reported similar large increases in the other three cities.
The statement said the cost of street lighting was covered by local taxes, and the drastic increases meant having to cut funding for other municipal activities.
So far, the municipalities had received compensation only for the months of October and November, and this had covered only between 20 and 30 per cent of the amount of the increase.
The mayors called for talks with the government on compensation for the increased costs of electricity and natural gas, which have a critical impact on key urban systems such as street lighting and public transport.
Fandukova said that in November 2021 alone, the electricity bill for Sofia’s metro underground railway system was more than triple the sum in November 2020, a total of 3.5 million leva compared with 1.1 million leva.
Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom are just some of the countries that have provided billions of euro in additional compensation from the state to the municipalities for the maintenance of public transport, which was among the worst affected by the crisis, Sofia municipality’s statement said.
Citing experts as saying that further increases in energy costs were expected this year, the statement said that additional funds for maintenance of municipalities should be included in the state Budget.
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