The Viennese municipal waste department, known as MA48, is undoubtedly a big part of daily life in the Austrian capital – and not only for practical reasons.
Every Viennese will be familiar with the department’s extensive public relations campaigns, from contests for choosing funny one-liners for its trash cans to weekend-long outdoor events showing kids (and grownups) the importance of the proper waste collection and circular economy.
But some of these public relations expenses might be harder to swipe under the carpet as the City of Vienna Court of Audit shone a light on the high costs of some of these actions, according to the daily newspaper Der Standard.
Most impressively, the audit made by request of opposition party FPÖ showed high expenses, including hiring a military aircraft and a helicopter – quite uncommon for a municipal waste department.
The MA 48 justifies the expenses by saying the aircraft served to attract apprentices and for public relations.
The SPÖ party, which governs Vienna, said that the department achieved “a maximum effect with a minimum budget with its public relations work” and “the advertising measures served to educate citizens and thus protect the environment.”, according to a press release.
Vienna’s audit court partially understands but still recommended some measures to improve transparency. The PR department of MA 48 will set up a cost centre to improve those issues, according to Der Standard.
The City Audit Office Committee will meet for its periodical review of public expenses on May 19th, when the subject should be further debated.