Prasa Requests Additional $12 Million for Payroll
SAN JUAN – The president of the Puerto Rico Aqueduct and Sewer Authority (Prasa), Alberto Lázaro, requested Sunday an additional $12 million for payroll expenses.
“The two biggest expenses Prasa has are payroll and electricity,” Lázaro said when presenting the public utility’s budget to the House Treasury and Budget Committee.
“We have about 4,850 people working, and this is the lowest number [Prasa] has had since we have been keeping track,” Lázaro said.
The water utility chief said the budget includes some 5,060 employees, because plant operators are needed, as there are few workers and every time one of them is absent overtime has to be paid to others.
He further explained that in his report, $12 million were requested for additional payroll expenses, since “with additional payroll spending, I’ll save $10 million in overtime pay.”
According to Prasa’s testimony, for the current fiscal year it had requested $262,367,000, while for fiscal 2017 it requested $274,999,000, representing an additional $12,632,000.
These additional funds would also be used to cover retirement system expenses, due to increased employer contributions.
“The second largest expense is electricity, for which we are requesting $12 million less,” said Lazaro, explaining the lower amount is due to savings achieved and a projected consumption decline of 8.5% for fiscal 2017.
The public hearing also shed light on the public corporation’s $150 million debt to Capital Improvement Program (PMC by its Spanish initials) contractors and suppliers.
Lázaro added that the PMC “had 100 active construction projects, and only four are left. We’ll wait to go to the markets…to negotiate with contractors and start again with capital improvements.”
Currently, Prasa expects approval of House Bill 2786, which seeks access to the financial market to pay off that debt and fund future capital improvements.