Yongin City to sell its cemeteries to stay solvent

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Yongin City to sell its cemeteries to stay solvent

Yongin City officials, including Mayor Kim Hak-kyu, are aggressively coming up with plans to save the Gyeonggi city from going bankrupt, including selling its cemeteries.

The city is struggling as a result of exceeding its budget in promoting big development projects.

On Monday, Mayor Kim launched a task force team consisting of around 10 high-level officials in charge of the city’s budget and accounting and held its first meeting to devise ways to raise more income.

After a two-hour-long meeting, they decided to sell around 70 real estate properties owned by the city.

“It was an inevitable decision to make as we’re under heavy pressure to pay back debt incurred from the light railroad construction project promoted by the former mayor,” Kim said.

Last week, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security gave the green light and issued a total of 422 billion won ($317 million) worth of bonds as was requested by the city in February, which will help pay 515.9 billion won immediately to compensate for the cost of construction of a light rail inside the city, a project promoted by the city’s former mayor.

Currently, Yongin City has 26,166 lots of government-owned land. According to the city government, the lots are worth a total of 2.5 trillion won.

First, the task force team decided to sell 25 city cemeteries located in towns and villages by putting the land up for public auction.

The city has created a Culture Funeral Center where the ashes of the deceased will be housed.

The sales of the cemeteries would secure the city more than 20 billion won revenue.

In addition, in the first half of this year, the city plans on selling its two livestock wastewater facilities and 11 water and sewage facilities as they are no longer necessary, with water flowing in from the Paldang Dam reservoir nearby. It will also sell public parking lots.

The city’s voluntary measures come after last week the administrative ministry requested 122 high-level city officials including Mayor Kim to return the extra money they received as an annual raise from March to December.

Kim will take a 295,000 won pay cut, while other officials will receive an average of 130,000 won less. This will add 185 million won to the city budget.

The mayor was also required to reduce his budget set aside for promoting policies and operating fees by 10 percent each.

Lower-level officials were asked by the central government to reduce their overtime pay and night duty pay by 25 to 50 percent. These measures would help the city pay back the recently-issued bonds by 2016.

“Tax revenue has dropped in recent years due to the sluggish real estate market and the slower-than-expected economic recovery,” said an official from the city.

By Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]
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