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Humacao Becomes An Autonomous Municipality

Mayor Trujillo presents $28.5 million operational budget for 2004 to Municipal Assembly; priority given to health, safety, public works, and housing


May 8, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Humacao Mayor Marcelo Trujillo will tonight present his proposed budget for fiscal year 2004 to the Municipal Assembly, the first since the city became autonomous in February. The city’s new operational budget, which will become effective July 1, amounts to $28.5 million, or $400,000 more than the current budget.

"The budget we are presenting takes into consideration that we will begin implementing our municipal autonomy during the next fiscal year. This will involve investing in the resources necessary to accomplish the sustainable development that we have proposed for the city," Trujillo told CARIBBEAN BUSINESS.

The mayor said the municipality’s growth in population and economic activity has transformed Humacao into "a great city," allowing it to become the island’s seventh autonomous municipality. "Humacao’s transformation was recognized by Gov. Sila Calderon through a resolution signed Feb. 7, 2003 approving its territorial plan," Trujillo said.

Being autonomous means a municipality has implemented a master territorial plan and is in charge of approving its own development permits within the city without the need for the Planning Board’s blessing. Additionally, it can receive property and nonproperty tax revenue directly from the Municipal Revenue Collections Center (CRIM by its Spanish acronym) and is able to secure a direct line of credit with financial entities without the intervention of the Treasury Department. Nonautonomous municipalities depend on the Planning Board for development approval and on the Treasury Department for revenue disbursement from CRIM and other public agencies, plus they can’t receive federal or state funds directly.

According to the mayor, the funds for the city’s operations in fiscal year 2004 will come from municipal taxes, business license fees (patentes), CRIM, revenue from the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority, federal and state funds, and other sources.

In 2002, the city created 124 new jobs through $1 million in proposals and some 300 municipal workers benefited from the city’s Employee Assistance Program, Trujillo noted.

In the area of public safety, the proposed budget for 2004 allocates $1.3 million to the municipal police, a 30% increase over the current budget. The proposed budget also includes $436,628 to the Municipal Assembly for the renovation of facilities, salary increases, and equipment purchases. The Finance Department would get $8.4 million for statutory expenses, generated expenses, debt repayment to the general fund, and more.

Trujillo allotted a significant portion of the budget for health, including the $4 million purchase of the area hospital. The Humacao mayor said the Government Development Bank has approved the acquisition and he expects to complete the process with the Health Department soon.

Trujillo is proposing $6.5 million for capital improvements, which include the construction of three jogging tracks, several community centers, a baseball park in the Candelero sector, and a 10,000-seat Olympic coliseum. The city’s sports & recreation program will receive $1 million. "We recognize the importance of sports in our youths’ development, the values they instill, and their positive impact on mental health," said Trujillo.

The Humacao mayor has also budgeted $2.4 million for federal housing programs such as the Section 8 rental subsidy, a 29% increase over last year’s budget. An Elderly Services Office was created and construction work has already begun to double the number of rooms at the Francisco Simonet senior facility. New housing projects for the elderly will be built in the urban center.

Trujillo said he was aware that with Humacao’s autonomy come greater political, civic, and legal responsibilities, but he was confident the city has "the knowledge, the willingness, and the resources to be on the road to progress and prosperity."

Humacao’s Budgetary Priorities for Fiscal Year 2004

City Office: Budget Allocation

Finance department (For debt repayment and other generated expenses): $8,385,550

Municipal police: $1,327,810

Mayor’s office: $1,194,664

Senior center: $1,128,747

Sports & recreation: $1,048,412

Emergency management: $622,799

Public relations: $531,377

Municipal assembly: $436,628

Others: $13,874,641

Total: $28,550,628

Source: Municipality of Humacao, Public Relations Office

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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