Good test results for the city Rheine

Municipal Audit Authority of North Rhine-Westphalia (gpaNRW) took a close look at the city’s budgete

“The supra-local audit by the Municipal Audit Office of North Rhine-Westphalia (gpaNRW) took place at the time of the Corona pandemic. The measures imposed to contain the pandemic are having an impact on numerous areas of life and society, and also on municipalities. It puts a strain on municipal budgets and also affects, among other things, the work of the youth welfare offices and building inspectorates considered in this supra-local audit. As far as possible, we have addressed these effects in the sub-reports,” explains Manfred Wiethoff, head of department at gpaNRW in Rheine on the occasion of the presentation of the audit report to the audit committee.

In Rheine, a six-member gpaNRW audit team took a closer look at the areas of finance, information technology, educational assistance, building supervision and traffic areas. The consistently good results were presented last week at the public meeting of the Audit Committee. The gpaNRW auditors summarized the results, findings and recommendations for action.

Currently, for example, the debt situation in Rheine is still comparatively low. The gpaNRW team sees a need for action to improve the budget situation on a sustainable basis and to achieve a budget balance again in order to stabilize equity. The equity capitalization in Rheine is above average in an inter-municipal comparison. However, the equalization reserve will be completely depleted by 2024 as planned. The emerging trend can therefore only be contained with extensive budget consolidation. The city also needs surpluses to be able to finance the extensive investments in fixed assets planned for the medium term. If no other funds are available, these investments can only be financed through new loans.

In the area of information technology, the initial situation is that the city is a member of the special-purpose association KAAW (Kommunale ADV-Anwendergemeinschaft West – Municipal ADV User Association West) and obtains mainly strategic administrative IT services from there. The city administration is responsible for the operational and technical aspects. A very positive aspect is that the city of Rheine equips its administrative workstations with IT at comparatively low cost. This result is all the more significant because the city of Rheine has a high level of IT security despite low costs. However, there is still room for improvement in the area of IT security at the schools. However, the resulting opportunities for IT control are being used extensively. The city of Rheine counters the corresponding IT risks for secure and functional IT with balanced structures and measures.

The city of Rheine is well on the way to digitally transforming its administration. It meets the legal requirements and is currently developing an overarching digitization strategy. The city Rheine has also already implemented a media-interruption-free invoice processing process. The local audit offers the city of Rheine the opportunity to contribute to secure, appropriate and economical IT provision via consultations and internal audits.

A comparatively high level of subsidies is required for educational assistance in Rheine. The reasons for this are the highest inter-communal expenses for individual cases of assistance and a very low proportion of outpatient cases. Although the number of assistance cases per 1,000 inhabitants up to the age of 21 (case density) is comparatively below average, both the outpatient and the inpatient assistance cases in Rheine cause high or highest expenses. The gpaNRW believes that there is still scope for improving access and case management in the area of educational assistance in order to significantly increase the proportion of more cost-effective outpatient cases. gpaNRW sees potential for optimization in particular in technical expansion and identifies this in the audit report.

Rheine growing. Building supervision is therefore of great importance. In an intermunicipal comparison for 2020, the city has an above-average number of cases per 10,000 inhabitants. In addition, the number of building applications is rising, as is also the case in the comparable municipalities. The city of Rheine uses specialized software for building supervision. There is a slight need for expansion in the area of digitization in building supervision, and the process of the simple building permit procedure could also be optimized in details, but is already well structured overall. The principle of dual control (prevention of corruption) is also ensured throughout Rheine. The personal building consultation and the information on the city’s website also contribute to the minimal proportion of withdrawn and comparatively low proportion of rejected building applications in 2020. The workload in case processing – measured in terms of cases per full-time position – is comparatively high in Rheine.

At the city of Rheine, traffic area management is assigned to the Planning and Building Department (Product 5.30 “Mobility and Traffic Planning”). gpaNRW still sees potential for optimization here in the further enrichment of additional information in the road database. As an area municipality, the city of Rheine maintains more traffic areas than most of the comparable municipalities. Consequently, the balance sheet values are also above average.

For the maintenance of its traffic areas, the city of Rheine spends less annually than the guideline value recommended by the German Road and Transportation Research Association (FGSV). Nevertheless, according to the current condition allocations and the multi-year conceptual planning bases, it can be assumed that maintenance planning is appropriate. The city of Rheine works in traffic area management with strategic goals and future-oriented concepts. The break-up management of the Technische Betriebe Rheine (TBR) is already well positioned in terms of processes. Nevertheless, optimizations could still be achieved, for example, through binding construction start notifications or evidence from the individual phases of construction. The gpaNRW also supports the planned integration of process documentation into the road database.

In summary, all of gpaNRW’s auditors gave the city of Rheine a good report card and emphasized that the recommendations served to make an already well-performing municipality even better. “We can be very satisfied with the audit results. This confirms the impression of the entire administrative board that we have a committed and very well working staff. The good audit result is all the more significant because we have a low staffing level compared with municipalities of a similar size,” says Mayor Dr. Peter Lüttmann.

About gpaNRW

The gpaNRW is part of the state’s supervision of municipalities and was founded in 2003. It has its headquarters in Herne. It is responsible by law and municipal code for the supra-local auditing of all 396 municipalities, the 30 districts and the Aachen city region, the two regional associations and the Ruhr Regional Association (RVR). Simone Kaspar (Deputy President) has headed the state authority since September 2022.

The gpaNRW publishes its audit reports on its homepage at