The fifth largest “city” has no town hall and pays huge rent. Stop, calls the opposition

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Prague’s most populous district is facing a curious problem: Approximately 130,000 people live in Prague 4, which ranks it in fifth place in an imaginary list of the largest Czech cities. And yet it doesn’t have its own town hall. Instead, he rents a private building from businessman Robert Schneider near the Budějovická metro station.

The contract for the lease of the building was concluded by the town hall, headed by the then mayor Pavlo Horálek (ODS) already in 2011. The long-term lease for 35 years was supposed to cost the district a total of about 1.5 billion, but due to the inflation mark-up, the price is continuously increasing.

A hole in the budget

And the rent has already risen to such a level that the opposition is organizing the collection of signatures for the referendum. He wants to force the coalition parties to rewrite or cancel the contract.

“Any opposition efforts to reduce the rent have been thrown off the table by the current coalition and the result is an ever-widening hole in the budget. The development of Prague 4 suffers from this in particular,” claims opposition representative Lukáš Kaiser Zicha (STAN), one of the authors of the petition calling for a referendum.

Already this year, the amount paid since 2011 will exceed the symbolic one billion. Most cities and town districts have their own town hall, in which they are officiated. The opposition also points to neighboring Prague 10, which decided to move to private premises a year ago.

Prague 10 pays approximately 40.5 million crowns per year to rent the 12,537 square meter building. At the same time, Prague 4 pays 76.4 million crowns for a smaller area (9,243 square meters), i.e. almost twice as much, the opposition points out.

Mayor: I invited the owner to a meeting

Mayor Ondřej Kubín (ODS) admits that the rising rent burdens the town hall. But they claim that it is not possible to easily withdraw from the contract or negotiate a rent reduction with the landlord.

“It’s a matter we’ve been dealing with for a very long time. It’s a problem I inherited because it’s an old contract. Unfortunately, we have not yet reached an agreement with the current owner on a mutually beneficial solution,” Kubín told Seznam Zprávy.

According to him, the town hall is in a bad negotiating position because it cannot simply go elsewhere.

“More than a year ago, I challenged the owner in a personal letter that I wanted to open the topic of rent valorization. Several meetings took place, but so far we simply haven’t agreed on a solution with the owner. As the town hall, we are pulling the short end of the rope. We do not really have an alternative where we would move such a large office, as we are de facto the fifth largest city in the Czech Republic. We are the largest district in Prague in terms of population, and the number of officials corresponds to that,” says the mayor.

Seznam News contacted the Schneider Group company with questions about negotiations with representatives of Prague 4. However, the answer did not come even after a week.

Opposition: The town hall does not want to do anything

Opposition representative Tomáš Kaplan (KDU-ČSL) claims that the coalition is not really interested in moving the town hall.

“I am strongly convinced that the current coalition representatives do not really want to do anything about it. They repeatedly refused to discuss it at all at the council, repeatedly ignored the control committee’s resolution. If they wanted to do something about it, any lawyer would advise them on the procedures provided for by law in 20 minutes,” Kaplan tells Seznam Zprávy.

According to him, the Civil Code from 2014 offers a way to reduce the rent. According to Kaplan, the City Hall should argue that conditions have changed significantly since the conclusion of the contract, specifically that inflation has jumped unexpectedly.

By the end of the contract in 2046, according to the opposition’s calculations, due to the inflationary surcharge, Prague 4 has to pay three billion crowns.

“Compare that with the fact that the capital is to buy the gigantic Komerční banka building on Wenceslas Square and move officials there for about 3.5 billion. The Prague-Modřany district built a town hall for 700 million,” Kaplan calculates.

In the referendum, residents of Prague 4 have to answer three questions. Firstly, whether they agree that the current lease in 2046 should not be renewed. The contract is expected to be extended for another ten years. Secondly, whether Prague 4 should take steps to reduce the amount of rent according to the current contract. And thirdly, whether Prague 4 should commission a professional study of moving to its own premises or a building owned by the capital city.

But for this, at least a tenth of the local population must support the referendum with their signatures.

“We collect signatures in cafes and restaurants, people contact us themselves, we advertise it in the town hall magazine. We will also collect through polling booths before the European and Senate elections. We want to move the date of the referendum towards the parliamentary elections, which will probably take place in the fall of 2025,” adds Kaplan.

The article is in Czech

Tags: largest city town hall pays huge rent Stop calls opposition

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