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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Mayors Assn. demands 3 areas be given priority in budget

Puerto Rico Mayors Association President Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz, with microphone (Israel Morales)

By The Star Staff

Puerto Rico Mayors Association President Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz demanded Monday that the budget for the upcoming fiscal year include direct funds to increase housekeeping services, road maintenance and school improvements.

“There are three pressing issues where citizens’ complaints are concentrated and the municipalities are struggling to address, but they are urgent needs that demand immediate and recurring allocations from the state government to the municipalities,” Hernández Ortiz emphasized.

The Villalba mayor and island Senate candidate also pointed out that to be effective in those areas, the funds must be allocated directly to the municipalities to combat bureaucracy.

“It has already been proven, and everyone accepts it, that a dollar administered by the municipalities goes further and works faster than when it is administered by the central government,” he said.

Through a press release, the Mayors Association, which groups municipal executives from the Popular Democratic Party, also underscored the 2020 Federal Census Data, which shows that the population of Puerto Rico is rapidly aging. The demographic shift is placing increasing demands on municipal services, particularly for the elderly population who often live alone, under low levels of poverty and with some disability.

“When these situations arise in families, where people in need go is to the municipality,” the mayor said. “We want to do more, but resources have to be allocated.”

Isabela Mayor Miguel “Ricky” Méndez pointed out that when he became mayor in 2021, “we had 13 housekeepers and with various federal and state programs we right now have 100, but right now we have a waiting list.”

In Salinas, Mayor Karilyn Bonilla Colón manages about 40 housekeepers who are paid with various items, with limitations.

“We have that amount, but the real need is much greater than that,” she said.

Vega Baja Mayor Marcos Cruz Molina, who is an educator, said the importance of having the necessary funds for the maintenance of schools “is an investment that is made in the future of Puerto Rico, at a time when it is necessary to prepare our youth adequately.”

“We mayors know our schools, the staff, the infrastructure and it is proven that we do the job not out of obligation, but from the heart,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Trujillo Alto, Mayor Pedrito Rodríguez pointed out that “particularly in our towns with mountainous areas, municipal public roads require constant attention.”

“We know that the bureaucracy of the state government stifles the good initiatives that municipal governments may have,” he said. “Fair allocation of funds for these three issues will help us be more effective. Hence the call that we mayors make for this new fiscal year 2024-2025.”

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