ABRE launches 2019 muni fiscal health index, with 8 towns scoring an ‘A’

By The Star Staff

ABRE Puerto Rico on Thursday launched its fiscal health index for the commonwealth’s 78 municipalities for 2019.

It is the sixth municipal fiscal health index published by the organization, which according to its website “is a social innovation project that uses data science and technology to present and communicate public data, making it useful and accessible to every citizen in Puerto Rico.”

The towns that received an ‘A’ in fiscal health for 2019 were Aibonito, Fajardo, Culebra, Isabela, Naguabo, Aguas Buenas, Orocovis and Barranquitas.

Receiving ‘Fs’ in fiscal health were the municipalities of San Lorenzo, Ceiba, Río Grande, Loíza, Lajas, Gurabo, Yauco, Cabo Rojo, Guayanilla and Patillas.

The index uses 13 indicators with information derived from audited financial statements to establish a grading system. In the previous edition published in November 2019, six municipalities failed to deliver their statements on time and therefore were not part of the index.

This time, seven municipalities -- Añasco, Arecibo, Guánica, Maricao, Maunabo, Santa Isabel and Vieques -- did not deliver the information requested and are not part of the latest edition, which ABRE said is unfortunate for the residents of these towns, who will not be able to rate the state of their municipality’s finances. Logically, one would expect most municipalities to adjust to the new fiscal reality, ABRE said in a statement.

The results for 2019 show that 45 percent of the municipalities had an excess of expenses in their general fund (deficit), 27 percent of the municipalities decreased their net assets during 2019, 17 percent of the municipalities decreased the balance in their general fund, 37 percent of municipalities had a negative balance in their general fund, and 41 percent of municipalities received more than 40 percent of their income from the central government fund.

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