Puerto Rico gov to introduce measure to consolidate Puerto Rico into counties
Faces pushback from mayors, lawmakers
SAN JUAN – Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló said Friday that before the current legislative session goes into recess June 30, he will be introducing a measure to create counties on the island.
Earlier this week, he said mayors should consider the proposal to create counties due to fiscal crisis the municipalities are facing.
“I think the first step would be to evaluate it in the legislature [based] on its merits and then see if we want to raise this type of structures to a constitutional level,” Rosselló said at a news conference Friday where he announced the construction of a natural gas terminal to supply the San Juan power complex. “What I propose establishes several things; the municipal structures, for example, the town of San Sebastián will not stop existing. What could happen is that the services will be eliminated as they will be offered at a county level.”
The governor said 80 percent of the municipalities would be inoperable in about five years.
“It can be seen in terms of the municipalities that have the financial capacity to provide those services… There are municipalities that cannot pay any of their services. And in those municipalities, the main role would be to maintain the structure and be a type of advocate for the services, this way, connecting the counties.”
Rosselló denied that his proposal could be made under the current Municipal Autonomous Act in the so-called consortiums.
“The Municipal Autonomous Act was supposed to give autonomy to the municipalities but that was not achieved because many of them depend on the central government,” he added. “With my proposal, a real autonomy will have to be achieved.”
He said that the proposal could result in about $800 million in savings.
Puerto Rico Senate President Thomas Rivera Schatz has said he would study the measure but would not back a measure to eliminate any of the island’s 78 municipalities, but would be open to consolidate the provision of service.