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Council plenary brings approval for 2016 budget

Votacio pressupost 2016 premsaThis morning saw the island’s councillors gather to celebrate the October plenary session of the Formentera Council. Of particular significance on the agenda was a proposal to grant initial approval to the Council’s general 2016 budgets, which, at 22,275,000 euros, are 1.43 percentage points higher than the accounts in 2015.    Bartomeu Escandell, tax office councillor, was on hand to speak to any questions on the subject. He pointed out – underscoring the focus on «quality public services» – the patent continuity between the budgets of years past and the coming year.

Environment and transport
Escandell enumerated some of the different projects envisioned for 2016, paying special attention to the green ones: rezoning and additional environmental protections at l’Estany des Peix, an initiative to regulate anchorage across the island’s coastline. Investment in sustainable transport was a recurring theme,  as the councillor made clear

Sustainable transport, the councillor made clear, is an important part of 2016 investments, as evidenced by the forthcoming draft of a directive on transport and plans to rehabilitate and repurpose local heritage sites.

Local participation
The councillor spoke of the move to give the Consell d’Entitats authority to decide which projects will receive 10% of the CiF investment budget (250,000€). The tax office councillor reminded plenary participants of the drop (from 0.85% to 0.80%) in the local real estate tax on urban buildings. He noted, however, that overall collections are expected to increase, thanks to improved inspection techniques.

Rejection by opposition
For a variety of reasons, the new budget did not receive support from the different opposition parties. Partido Popular spokesman José Manuel Alcaraz declared his party’s intent to submit objections in an attempt to lower tax rates. Socialist councillor Rafael Ramírez explained his party’s objection as «a question of principle», indicating the PSOE’s desire to be included in the consensus process. Compromís amb Formentera spokeswoman Cristina Costa, while declaring «agreement on the general terms of the budget», assured her party would have given priority to different projects. In the end, the budget was passed thanks to “yes” votes from the ruling party and despite the “no” of the opposition.

Seeking funds to purchase Espalmador
Attendants of the plenary voted unanimously to support a joint motion – first launched by the PP – to seek out funding in conjunction with the Palma and Madrid governments to buy the island of s’Espalmador and guarantee its environmental upkeep. Labelling it a subject of general interest, Councillor Escandell stressed the importance of winning the support of all the island’s political parties. He also said he would petition to see that «more controls are put in place to ensure a real, effective protection of the island take place». The three other groups gave their support to this idea.

Unanimity
There were three final measures that saw councillors join together for unanimous approval. First among these was a motion to post the agendas of the CiF president and councillors on the Formentera Council website. The second dealt with the drafting of a collaborative accord to improve the island’s firefighting service. In the third case, the go-ahead was given to commissioning an undersea archeological map of Formentera and surrounding areas. In patrimony councillor Susana Labrador’s words, «locating and describing our underwater archeological heritage sites is the first step toward effectively protecting them».  

Winter hours take effect for La Savina street parking

Aparcament la Savina premsaEmployees of Formentera’s office of transport announced today that, effective Sunday 1 November, winter hours will be in use at regulated parking spots across la Savina. The pay-to-park system will apply Monday through Saturday mornings from nine a.m. to two p.m., and afternoons, Monday through Friday, four to eight. Parking will be free on Sundays and bank holidays. The winter scheme will remain effective until 1 May.

Beginning Sunday, residents and local businesses with the pay-to-park decal will be able to leave vehicles for up to 3 days in both blue and green zones; in summer this period was just one day. For decal-holders residing in la Savina, the 3-day limit for blue-zone parking is in addition to a 15-day limit.

Positive feedback
Transport councillor Rafael González gave positive reviews of the programme in its first summer: «We met all of our goals; people who wanted to patronise businesses in la Savina – or park and catch the Eivissa ferry – were able to use the new system without any problems. The same for la Savina town residents». Councillor González said that in the first six months of application, the Formentera Council collected 120,000€.

González also reminded residents that drivers without a decal can park at the 110-space lot opposite the Illes Pitiüses park, next to l’Estany des Peix, and that drivers of electric vehicles though not in possession of a decal are always free to park in blue zones.

Budget for 2016 anticipates funding to regulate anchorage along Formentera coastline

RP Pressupostos premsaFormentera Council president Jaume Ferrer and vice president and tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell have unveiled the administration’s 2016 budget. As Escandell explained, next year’s books «stick to the budgetary route first taken in 2012» and «keep spending at roughly 22 million euros». The exact figure is 22,275,000.00€, or 1.43% than last year.

Escandell indicated: «This budget» - composed of 12 million euros from internal financing and another 9 million from sources like the Balearic community and Madrid - «allows the Formentera Council to remain financially self-reliant». During the 2016 fiscal year the administration will continue lowering taxes levied, a move affecting real estate taxes in the island’s urban areas: the current rate of 0.85% will drop to 0.80%. The councillor assured that, despite the drop, adjustments to collection practises will effect an overall increase in funds raised.

Environmental programmes
Investment, reserved for green programmes, will be made into two projects: one, a project to oversee the management and protection of the Estany des Peix zone, and another, regulation of boat anchorage across the Formentera coastline. Each of these has a budget of 60,000 euros. An additional goal of investment is to promote sustainable transport. Vice President Escandell referred to the upcoming drafting of a mobility directive, aimed at «maximising efficiency in public transport and instating a green trails network».

Two line items on the budget are set aside for repurposing local heritage sites in order to increase their use by the community. Two-hundred thousand euros, for example, are allocated for the project to convert the lighthouse in la Mola into a cultural centre, and a similar project at Can Ramon is set to receive 30,000 euros.

New decision-making power for Consell d’Entitats
The 2016 budget bestows the local board of associations and business leaders with new participatory capabilities. «With this budget», pointed out Escandell, «the Consell d’Entitats is given the authority to decide where 10% (or 250,000€) of the investment budget goes». This will further increase the importance of the Consell in deciding which projects receive assistence on Formentera.

Additional public service improvements envisioned by the new budget are the construction of a municipal funeral parlour and the expansion of service at the cami Vell nursery school to include year-round classes.

Roll out of winter rates at Es Pujols car park

parquing p europa premsaThe Formentera Council's transport office has announced that from this Sunday, 1 November, winter parking rates will apply in the underground car park at plaça Europa in Es Pujols. New to this season's price scheme are special rates for users who purchase bi-annual (semestral) spots. «Reductions», explained transport councillor Rafael González, «will be applied for any individual or business that commits to bi-annual use (un abonament) for more than ten vehicles». This winter, Council officials hope to see more residents using the car park, which until now, the CiF councillor pointed out, «has often remained empty in winter months».

Rates
A bi-annual commitment at the car park lasts for six months, from the beginning of November through the end of April, and has a cost of 150 euros. The monthly equivalent is priced at 25 euros. Both are available to Es Pujols residents, employees and owners of local business and area homeowners. Those with bi-annual abonament are guaranteed a reserved spot, while for monthly users this is subject to availability.

Another new feature of the rates scheme allows vehicle owners to benefit from discounts if they purchase an abonament for more than ten vehicles. The bi-annual rate for 11 to 20 vehicles is 135 euros; 120€ for 21 to 30 and 100€ for 31 and up. Other rate plans include: yearly (720€), weekly (35€) or hourly (1.70€).

Abonaments can be requested at the Citizens' Information Office (OAC) and will be accorded in the order applications are received. The plaça Europa car park has capacity for 136 vehicles. Twenty-five percent of spaces are held for temporary users. Last year was the first year the bi-annual rate was offered, and eight drivers opted for its use.

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