A Message from the Lord Mayor
Development in the Hands of the City Council
The Lord Mayor´s Sector
A Wide Range of Services
City Planning and Infrastructure
Municipal Business Enterprises and Technical Services
Brief facts about Helsinki



The Lord Mayor directs the overall operation of the City administration and general financial planning. His (or, as presently, her) responsibilities include overseeing preparatory preparation of business relating to the budget and other aspects of the administration of City finances. An additional task in 1997 was the drafting of an outline strategic plan for the coming four-year period. The guiding principles emphasised in it were quality of services, attention to environmental questions and the physical and social wellbeing of residents. International affairs and the development of business and economic policies are nowadays also important aspects of the Lord Mayor's work.

City finances on a sound footing

In its own financial planning, the City actively sought means of adding further momentum to economic development. With the business sector doing well, tax revenues increased. The City's deliberate policy of increasing investment had a positive effect on the building sector and job creation. Exercising its power to determine the municipal tax level, the City struck a rate of 16.5%, half a percentage point lower than the previous year. This contributed further to purchasing power and helped stimulate the services sector.

Internationalisation a resource

Helsinki's participation in international cooperation has grown strongly. Exchanges of information and experience, especially within the frameworks of European city networks, have become a natural aspect of our work. Energy management, environmental questions, urban planning and cooperation between institutions of learning feature prominently in our priorities. Helsinki pursues a policy of promoting the local economy by encouraging foreign investment in the city, supporting international companies when they establish operations here, and helping Helsinki-based companies in their efforts to internationalise. The interest of international investors and companies in Helsinki is added to by the city's status as Finland's leading skill centre, with its universities and advanced research establishments. Other strong assets include the high standard of infrastructure supporting business, superb services and a safe and healthy living environment. Helsinki's geographical location at the heart of Northern Europe is likewise a distinct advantage. Important cooperation partners from Helsinki's perspective are, besides the other EU capitals, Moscow and St. Petersburg. An important argument that Helsinki pushes in its international marketing is its proximity to Russia and the other countries around the Baltic, especially Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Beyond Europe, Helsinki has established relations and markets itself in, among other places, the USA and the Far East.

Actively promoting business

The need for the City to pursue a policy of actively promoting business development has been accentuated in recent years. Success in international competition among urban areas requires that strengths be developed and effectively highlighted. Population growth and the paradoxical combination of continuing high unemployment and incipient labour shortages in some growth sectors pose challenges that must be responded to. Companies must be given better conditions in which to strive for success and job opportunities must be increased. The Business Development Unit launched at the beginning of the year has improved the City's ability to act effectively in this respect. Environment respected As a competition factor, the environment is important for companies, the national economy and even the prosperity and wellbeing of states, a fact that underscores the need for an importance of cooperation on both the local and the national level. Rather than seeing business and the environment as opposing interests, the goal from the outset should be good cooperation between companies, the authorities, environmental organisations and political decision makers. A local programme for sustainable development is being drafted by the City. One of the main principles enshrined in it is that of stimulating cooperation between the authorities responsible for the administration of sub-areas of the city and local residents.


Helsinki networking

Recognising the need to ensure that adequate resources are channelled into information technology, the City has been determinedly developing its technology infrastructure. It is also participating in several joint projects both nationally and within the European Union. An example is the Equality project, in which telematics and information technology are being employed as instruments to improve services in residential areas. The part of Helsinki chosen for implementation of the project is a new residential district, where home services for elderly and handicapped persons were developed with the aid of telematics. The information network was also used to carry details of other public services, develop an information service to assist civic organisations in their efforts and create a virtual services market and shopping services. One of the extensive technology projects in which the City is participating is Helsinki Arena 2000, being implemented on the initiative of the Helsinki Telephone Corporation (HPY). The intention is to create a three-dimensional model of the city, which people will be able to tour using their personal computers. When the system is operational, all of the cultural, commercial and public services in the capital will be within convenient reach of everyone via their keyboards. Examples of the sub-projects carried out in 1997 include the City Museum's virtual version on the Internet, the information about public services posted on the City's Web pages and Helsinki Water's online application which enables customers to transact business electronically.

Lord Mayor of Helsinki
Eva-Riitta Siitonen
  - General planning and management
- The municipal plan - preparation
- The Budget - preparation and control
- Environmental affairs
- Fire and rescue services
(FIM = Finnish markkas; 1$=ca. 5.5 FIM)
- Income FIM 185 million
- Expenditure FIM 1,076 million
- per inhabitant FIM 1,995
- Investment FIM 97 million
- Personnel strength 1,159
- % of total City employees 3

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