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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Mayors Assn: Tech tools at CRIM are welcome, but towns must be integrated & citizens must be treated

Mayors Association President Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz

By The Star Staff

Mayors Association President Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz on Wednesday backed the use of technology to achieve more efficiency at the Municipal Revenue Collections Center (CRIM), but said it must be a sensitive process and one that more actively integrates the municipalities.

“In addition, we demand a review of the operations of CRIM regional offices,” Hernández Ortiz said in a press release. “Every day the municipalities are forced to set up our own offices and still continue to contribute financially to a structure that does not correctly serve the municipalities.”

The CRIM is supposedly imposing technological applications that are resulting in higher property taxes. CRIM is the entity in charge of collecting property taxes, a source of revenue for the island’s towns.

Hernández Ortiz said mayors have been getting complaints from citizens about the huge amount in property taxes they must pay and requests for proof of ownership within 30 days, he said.

“In addition, we have many people, throughout the island, who do not have the technological capacity and we cannot leave them behind in the process,” the Villalba mayor said. “These citizens must be offered a service in accordance with their reality. We strongly support the use of technology, but it cannot to the detriment of the poorest families and the middle class.”

For years, the Mayors Association has demanded revisions to the CRIM to insert the municipalities into the orientation process and from their offices provide support to those who need it most.

“We are talking about families, businesses and industries that are interested in paying [their taxes],” Hernández Ortiz added.

The mayors on Tuesday met with the CRIM’s leadership.

“We must take seriously the problem of social inequality that we have in Puerto Rico,” Hernández Ortiz said. “Everyone knows that when there are cases of people or powerful entities or with connections, they are treated with much deference over those with fewer or no connections.”

Everyone has to contribute according to their realities, he said.

“We cannot have a lot of effort to collect a debt of $100, when there are other debts of $100,000 and more, which are not touched,” the Mayors Association president said. “What the associated mayors promote is social justice.”

Isabela Mayor Miguel “Ricky” Méndez Pérez, who was at the meeting with CRIM officials, pointed out that “we have to be informed of what the CRIM is working on with the municipalities.”

He said invoices are being sent even to churches that are exempted by law, and to people with government-issued land parcels from 30 and 40 years ago.

“Of course you have to have evidence, but they require a term of 30 days to deliver documentation, and that is very little time,” Méndez Pérez said.

Pedro García, the mayor of Hormigueros, said there are homes where some rudimentary zinc sheet metal structures were put up to park a car or to house pets, and from an aerial photo from a geolocator it has been construed as new construction, increasing property taxes for those homes.

“The [CRIM] project is not bad, but it is being applied rapidly,” García said. “In yesterday’s meeting, which was positive, we were able to express ourselves and we hope that we can make the corrections that we talked about, because the goal is a common one: to do the job well and in an orderly manner.”

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