Puerto Rico gov’s office: Mayors oppose measures sought by fiscal board
Claim sustainability of towns questioned, will be ‘forced’ to continue making healthcare, retirement system payments
SAN JUAN — After meeting with the director of the federally created fiscal oversight board for Puerto Rico, the chairman of the island’s Municipal Revenue Collection Center (CRIM by its Spanish acronym) governing board publicly opposed the former’s proposals, saying they threaten the fiscal health of towns.
“During the meeting that took place Tuesday afternoon, it emerged that the [fiscal oversight board] is totally opposed to Act 29, which exempts municipalities from the responsibility of paying ASES [Spanish acronym for Health Insurance Administration] and the Pay as you Go (PayGo). Likewise, it was informed that the Board would be going to the Federal Court to force the municipalities and the CRIM to comply with the directive to prepare a budget that contains the continuation of payments to ASES and Retirement [system],” CRIM Chairman Javier Carrasquillo said in a release issued by the governor’s office, La Fortaleza.
Carrasquillo, who is also mayor of Cidra, Puerto Rico, stressed that “these actions will have a devastating effect on the coffers of the municipalities, the majority of which are in a difficult fiscal situation.”
Gov. Ricardo Rosselló’s municipal affairs adviser, Omar Negrón, said the governor “fully supports” the mayors’ position and opposes the fiscal board’s proposals.
The fiscal board, Negrón said, “intends to aggravate the economic situation of all of Puerto Rico. These measures represent a serious fiscal problem for the municipalities because they do not count on the money of the Matching Fund. The governor has been emphatic in his defense of the municipalities and will fight any economic measure that threatens the 78 municipalities and the services they offer.”
The adviser, who according to the release also denounced that fiscal board Executive Director Natalie Jaresko “questioned the sustainability of maintaining 78 towns in Puerto Rico,” added that the fiscal panel “wants the mayors to look for new opportunities for their municipalities, but is choking them economically.”
Negrón further said in the release that during the meeting with the CRIM board, Jaresko “never presented alternatives to Act 29 nor offered suggestions or recommendations on how to address the fiscal problem in the short term.”
The meeting was also attended by the mayors of Bayamón, Aibonito, Orocovis, Maunabo and Juncos, as well as CRIM Executive Director Reinaldo Paniagua and José Santiago, representing the island’s Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority).