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Budget woes force Ishigaki City to raise service fees

Date Posted: 2004-03-11

Fiscal austerity caused by cuts in central government subsidies have caused Ishigaki City to become the first in Okinawa Prefecture to bite the bullet and implement steep hikes of fees the city charges for public services. The price hikes are scheduled to go into effect on April 1st.

The price hikes will affect about 50 different public services that until now have been free or relatively low cost, including charges for using public gyms, community halls, swimming pools, baseball grounds, and even a crematorium. Utility bills will also go up. The new fees are up to five-fold compared to current rates.

As the price hikes are published, many residents and businesses have reacted with anger, but city officials say that they have no other choice. “As the central government cut off most of our subsidies, we have no other choice but to charge more,” Ishigaki City Office General Section Chief Ken Kuroshima said. He added that instead of cutting city workers’ wages or firing a number of them, the city chose to charge more for the services.

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