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Areas General Services Economy and Treasury

Council plenary brings approval for 2016 budget

Votacio pressupost 2016 premsaThis morning saw the island’s councillors gather to celebrate the October plenary session of the Formentera Council. Of particular significance on the agenda was a proposal to grant initial approval to the Council’s general 2016 budgets, which, at 22,275,000 euros, are 1.43 percentage points higher than the accounts in 2015.    Bartomeu Escandell, tax office councillor, was on hand to speak to any questions on the subject. He pointed out – underscoring the focus on «quality public services» – the patent continuity between the budgets of years past and the coming year.

Environment and transport
Escandell enumerated some of the different projects envisioned for 2016, paying special attention to the green ones: rezoning and additional environmental protections at l’Estany des Peix, an initiative to regulate anchorage across the island’s coastline. Investment in sustainable transport was a recurring theme,  as the councillor made clear

Sustainable transport, the councillor made clear, is an important part of 2016 investments, as evidenced by the forthcoming draft of a directive on transport and plans to rehabilitate and repurpose local heritage sites.

Local participation
The councillor spoke of the move to give the Consell d’Entitats authority to decide which projects will receive 10% of the CiF investment budget (250,000€). The tax office councillor reminded plenary participants of the drop (from 0.85% to 0.80%) in the local real estate tax on urban buildings. He noted, however, that overall collections are expected to increase, thanks to improved inspection techniques.

Rejection by opposition
For a variety of reasons, the new budget did not receive support from the different opposition parties. Partido Popular spokesman José Manuel Alcaraz declared his party’s intent to submit objections in an attempt to lower tax rates. Socialist councillor Rafael Ramírez explained his party’s objection as «a question of principle», indicating the PSOE’s desire to be included in the consensus process. Compromís amb Formentera spokeswoman Cristina Costa, while declaring «agreement on the general terms of the budget», assured her party would have given priority to different projects. In the end, the budget was passed thanks to “yes” votes from the ruling party and despite the “no” of the opposition.

Seeking funds to purchase Espalmador
Attendants of the plenary voted unanimously to support a joint motion – first launched by the PP – to seek out funding in conjunction with the Palma and Madrid governments to buy the island of s’Espalmador and guarantee its environmental upkeep. Labelling it a subject of general interest, Councillor Escandell stressed the importance of winning the support of all the island’s political parties. He also said he would petition to see that «more controls are put in place to ensure a real, effective protection of the island take place». The three other groups gave their support to this idea.

Unanimity
There were three final measures that saw councillors join together for unanimous approval. First among these was a motion to post the agendas of the CiF president and councillors on the Formentera Council website. The second dealt with the drafting of a collaborative accord to improve the island’s firefighting service. In the third case, the go-ahead was given to commissioning an undersea archeological map of Formentera and surrounding areas. In patrimony councillor Susana Labrador’s words, «locating and describing our underwater archeological heritage sites is the first step toward effectively protecting them».  

Budget for 2016 anticipates funding to regulate anchorage along Formentera coastline

RP Pressupostos premsaFormentera Council president Jaume Ferrer and vice president and tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell have unveiled the administration’s 2016 budget. As Escandell explained, next year’s books «stick to the budgetary route first taken in 2012» and «keep spending at roughly 22 million euros». The exact figure is 22,275,000.00€, or 1.43% than last year.

Escandell indicated: «This budget» - composed of 12 million euros from internal financing and another 9 million from sources like the Balearic community and Madrid - «allows the Formentera Council to remain financially self-reliant». During the 2016 fiscal year the administration will continue lowering taxes levied, a move affecting real estate taxes in the island’s urban areas: the current rate of 0.85% will drop to 0.80%. The councillor assured that, despite the drop, adjustments to collection practises will effect an overall increase in funds raised.

Environmental programmes
Investment, reserved for green programmes, will be made into two projects: one, a project to oversee the management and protection of the Estany des Peix zone, and another, regulation of boat anchorage across the Formentera coastline. Each of these has a budget of 60,000 euros. An additional goal of investment is to promote sustainable transport. Vice President Escandell referred to the upcoming drafting of a mobility directive, aimed at «maximising efficiency in public transport and instating a green trails network».

Two line items on the budget are set aside for repurposing local heritage sites in order to increase their use by the community. Two-hundred thousand euros, for example, are allocated for the project to convert the lighthouse in la Mola into a cultural centre, and a similar project at Can Ramon is set to receive 30,000 euros.

New decision-making power for Consell d’Entitats
The 2016 budget bestows the local board of associations and business leaders with new participatory capabilities. «With this budget», pointed out Escandell, «the Consell d’Entitats is given the authority to decide where 10% (or 250,000€) of the investment budget goes». This will further increase the importance of the Consell in deciding which projects receive assistence on Formentera.

Additional public service improvements envisioned by the new budget are the construction of a municipal funeral parlour and the expansion of service at the cami Vell nursery school to include year-round classes.

Govern and Council pact on fifty-fifty split of Formentera-Eivissa waste transfer costs

BartomeuEscandellThe Formentera Council, in the words of the administration's councillor of economy Bartomeu Escandell, “wishes to give thanks to the Govern Balear, which, by way of an arm of the Palma government known as 'el Consell de Govern' has made official a subsidy of €2,136,000—fifty percent of the Formentera-Eivissa waste transfer costs accrued from 2011 to 2014”.

The subsidy follows negotiations that were held over two years between José Vicente Marí Bossó, the autonomous government's tax and budgets councillor, and, representing the Formentera Council, Escandell himself.

Bartomeu Escandell explained: “Our wish is that the Govern assumes full responsibility of the cost of transport. That was the agreement in place from the time the es Cap de Barbaria transfer plant was opened through 31 December 2010—the duration of Balearic president Antich's presidency. We would have wanted a similar accord to bear out during this legislature”.

Councillor Escandell reported that “during this legislative sitting, the cost of waste transfer reached 4.5 millon euros, so the agreement reached today—and the €2,136,000 in funding that it guarantees—are positive for the Council”.

Escandell applauded Marí Bossó for what the economic councillor described as “his knack for true dialogue and his will to compromise”. Speaking of the outgoing legislature, Escandell continued: “With Councillor Marí Bossó, important agreements have been struck both on this issue and with regard to funding for the island councils”.

CiF puts an end to bank debt

130114 bartomeuescThe Formentera Council has wiped clean the last of its debts with banking establishments, a development which means—in the words of the administration's economy councillor Bartomeu Escandell—: “that the Council will cease to pay interest and instead focus the totality of its resources on services and investments for the local population.” According to Councillor Escandell, the situation is clear proof of the economic viability of the CiF ('Consell insular de Formentera'), an institution which is simultaneously ajuntament and consell.

This morning a payment of €613,301 was made to BBVA, which left the Council in a state of zero debt. Last year, on 3 June 2014, the Council paid off a loan it held with La Caixa bank.

The Council's debt reached its most critical point on 21 December 2012 when an outstanding sum of €11.5 million meant the administration was making yearly interest payments of €500,000. That situation was the result of, on the one hand, the debt that the Govern Balear held with the Formentera Council (at the time €18 million) and on the other, the fact that the national administration was obliging the Council to use ICO-PYME loans to repay its debtors.

Formentera is now seven years ahead of the timeline set by the central government, which calls for local governing entities to reach zero debt by 2022.

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