The San Juan Daily Star
Funding to study landfill closure and design approved for 16 towns
The island government will continue to take steps to identify additional sources of fundingfor the closure of municipal landfills that are noncompliant with commonwealth and federal laws on solid waste management.
By THE STAR STAFF
Secretary of State and Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority (AAFAF by its Spanish initials) Executive Director Omar Marrero Díaz said Tuesday that officials informed 16 mayors last week about the approval of fund disbursements for the landfills design and closure study under the Solid Waste Program through funds stemming from the American Rescue Plan Act[s (ARPA) Coronavirus State Fiscal Recovery Fund (CSFRF).
Marrero said the program provides $24.7 million in CSFRF funds for the following 16 municipalities: Añasco, Arecibo, Arroyo, Barranquitas, Cabo Rojo, Cayey, Culebra, Florida, Guayama, Hormigueros, Jayuya, Juana Díaz, Lajas, Moca, Toa Alta and Toa Baja. It is the first step in ensuring that these municipalities comply with state and federal laws that regulate solid waste management.
“The administration of Governor Pedro Pierluisi included the closure of landfills as one of its priority projects,” Marrero said. “For these purposes, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), in collaboration with the Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (DNER), provided managerial and administrative support to define the strategies for the use of funds for the benefit of the municipalities.”
“The purpose of this strategy is to address the costs of landfills in critical condition in the planning, design and construction stages,” the official added. “After [last Thursday’s] meetings with the mayors, OGP and AAFAF, officials determined that the planning and design phases could be paid for with ARPA funds for the municipalities with the corresponding documentation, such as closure plans.”
The CSFRF Disbursement Oversight Committee carried out the approval. The committee created by Executive Order 2020-040 consists of Marrero as chairman, Treasury Secretary Francisco Parés Alicea and OMB Director Juan Carlos Blanco. The committee works in coordination with other agencies to establish strict controls that ensure all expenses and disbursements follow U.S. Department of the Treasury guidelines.
The AAFAF chief noted that the island government will continue to take steps to identify additional sources of funds so that municipalities can comply with the closure of noncompliant landfills, as applicable.
Marrero pointed out that each municipality disbursement will be duly documented and subject to control and audit. In addition, the information to support design and planning expenses under the program will be kept for audit and compliance purposes.