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Areas General Services Economy and Treasury

On the agenda: 2018 participatory spending

foto CdE 2018A meeting of the Consell d'Entitats took place this Tuesday in the plenary hall of Formentera's dependent care centre. Spokespeople from groups on the island heard progress reports on the initiatives that received money in 2017 from the Council's “participatory spending”, or pressupostos participatius, initiative. Attendees agreed on a timeline to present proposals and got a peek at the application process.

2018 spending
The gathering also aimed to inform community leaders about the three projects launched in 2017 under the aegis of participatory spending. One envisioned an accessible sailboat, recently added to the sailing school's fleet. The other two initiatives —a kids' park and a fitness circuit for seniors in Sant Ferran— are scheduled to receive attention in 2018, pending the Council's acquisition of the land.

Tax office secretary Bartomeu Escandell gave an overview of the €26.9 million spending package the administration will direct in 2018. For three consecutive years, the Consell d'Entitats has been charged with choosing how to invest 10% of that money. This year and last, that worked out to €325,000.

An agreement was reached concerning the deadline for project proposals. Local groups will be given all the necessary information to prevent repeat projects, and the Council will make its own services available to assist hopefuls in preparing their bids.

All of the projects suggested will be reviewed for viability. Once those results have been shared with the Consell d'Entitats, the body will have until May to fix a selection process.

The associations included on Formentera's registry of civilian groups have increased from 96 last year to 104. Of those, a total of 78 are active in the Consell d'Entitats, compared to 71 in 2017.

Officials meet to start afresh with highways deal envisaging upgrades

reunio min de foment a madrid conveni carreteresThe Formentera Council reports that this morning a delegation of local officials that included President Jaume Ferrer, Vice-President/tax office secretary Bartomeu Escandell and assorted staff specialists sat down at the Ministry of Public Works in Madrid to meet with officials there about closing out the so-called “highways partnership” signed between the two agencies in 2009. Participants on the other side included Rosalia Bravo, who is deputy project director of the department of motorways, as well as other spokespeople for the tax office and the Ministry of Public Works.

2009 agreement
The original partnership unlocked an investment of €13.4 million which was used to build roundabouts in es Pujols and Sant Francesc. The money also drove upgrades of local roads, like those near the Sant Francesc primary school or the arterials that cut across Formentera's salterns from la Savina to es Pujols. Most recently, in 2015, money from the fund went to improvements on the road that descends to es Cap de Barbaria.

President Ferrer congratulated his island for being the “first to fulfil our end of the 2009 highway covenants”. He noted the agreements drove upgrades across a significant portion of Formentera's roads, plus brought about new infrastructure which made possible the switch to pedestrian-only paths in Sant Francesc, Sant Ferran and es Pujols. Formentera's chief framed the efforts as “new groundwork for the island's mobility strategy moving forward”.

Call for new agreement
Council officials seized the opportunity of the commission's gathering to request a new partnership be considered. Valued at nearly €2.3 million, the planned agreement would enable local authorities to train their focus on highway upgrades, including fresh asphalt and undergrounded utility lines, from la Savina to la Mola. Other improvements envisioned would take place along the road to cala Saona and the stretch of highway from Restaurant es Cap to the island's southern tip.

Council's 2018 spending centres on care services, environment and heritage sites

Foto presentacio pressupost 2018 premsaCiF president Jaume Ferrer and Bartomeu Escandell, the administration's deputy chair and tax office secretary, sat down today at 11.00am in the Sala d'Actes of the Formentera Council to shine a light on the administration's 2018 budget, which, at €26,860,000, marks a 12.78% jump compared to 2017.

Secretary Escandell cited a more robust endowment from the region, including funding from sources like the so-called “Sustainable Tourism Tax” and the central government in Madrid. Particularly noteworthy: this year, the bulk of the Council's investments will be self-funded. According to Escandell, it is the result of ten years during which the Council has fine-tuned its services for islanders and overseen its own infrastructural consolidation. The secretary held up the administration's current debt load (zero) as a sign of economic surefootedness and proof “the Council doesn't rely on external funding”.

The administration's biggest appropriation (€10,086,500) is for staff. Next year will see the rollout of a new jobs service, part of a measure approved at a recent plenary session. The increase, says Escandell, is linked to the Council's incorporation of personnel from the tourism advisory board (Patronat de Turisme).

The secretary explained that “spending has grown commensurate with new and upgraded services and the gradual consolidation of the administration's workforce”. Waste management and cleaning remains the largest expenditure, and real investment has also climbed, from €3,250,000 in 2017 to €4,500,000 in 2018.

The administration projects direct taxes will generate €6,150,000 in cash in 2018, similar to the same figure in 2017. Escandell pointed to a “stabilized” flow of money from both standard and ordinary collections — two categories which in recent years have represented increasingly important sums of money, thanks, he said, to “collection from previously hidden sources”.

foto consell premsaThe Formentera Council's tax office has reported its average pay-out time for service providers in 2016 to be 26.12 days. Department head Bartomeu Escandell, who made the announcement, held up the data as proof that the administration has “effectively digitalised its internal processes as to quickly pay its providers”.

Pay cycles tended to be dragged out during the crisis, said Escandell, but streamlined online procedures have allowed the Council to get the average waiting period on provider pay-outs within the legal limit of 30 days.

Formentera plenary accepts €23.8m budget for 2017

foto conseller presidentToday at its November plenary, the Formentera Council granted preliminary approval for the administration's 2017 budget. “Yes” votes were cast by Gent x Formentera and the socialist party while Compromís opted for abstention and Partido Popular voted against the measure. As tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell pointed out, the budget's nearly €24m total marks a 6.91-per cent increase on the 2016 figure (€22.8m).

Escandell also highlighted a few changes, like money for a traffic inspection crew, plus funding to expand Formentera's lifeguard and rescue service, fire brigade, school of music, childcare services, cleaning crews and administrative staff.

He added that Formentera currently has no debt, though said that could change with the Council's projected assumption of a loan linked to Consorci Formentera Desenvolupament.

On other spending, Escandell referred to “recent improvements in Formentera's residential and tourist urban zones, development of green and sustainable transport solutions, upgrades of out-of-use heritage sites and a continued push for community involvement through Formentera's Council of Entities.

José Manuel Alcaraz, spokesman of Partido Popular, bemoaned the absence of tax cuts in the budget, while Ana Juan, spokeswoman for  Partido Socialista, opined that the forecast was “very close” to her own group's vision for the island, citing projects like safety upgrades on camí Vell de la Mola alongside Formentera's football pitch. Explaining the group's abstention on the vote, Compromís's spokesperson said: “It's got plenty of good parts and then some not-so good parts”.

Other agreements
The plenary brought unanimous approval for a deal with Grup d'Acció Local to support local fishing, as well as a call from the socialist group for an educational effort to familiarise local associations with the technicalities of grant requests.

Another measure that received unanimous approval (excluding abstention from Partido Popular's) dealt with the language used on future roads and urban arterials. A forthcoming measure will address the official name of the island's new industrial park.

Verbal report from Sònia Cardona
This month's plenary featured an account from councillor of community involvement Sònia Cardona, who described her office's goal as “bringing resident participation to the fore of the administration's decision-making process”.

“We are seeing that local mobilisation can influence the decisions that are made,” Cardona said, pointing to the creation of local participatory budgets and the popular effort to stop a plan to move Formentera's landing at the Eivissa port.

Cardona trumpeted the list of 96 groups that make up the island's association registry and reported on recent upgrades of audio and IT equipment at the local space for associations, the Casal d'Entitats.

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