Measure filed in Senate to review CRIM functionality, effectiveness
By The Star Staff
Faced with the fiscal reality of Puerto Rico’s municipalities, Sens. Gretchen Marie Hau and Migdalia González, who chair the Senate Legal and Municipal Affairs & Housing committees, respectively, filed a resolution this week to investigate the functions and structure of the Municipal Revenues Collection Center (CRIM by its Spanish acronym), which takes in close to $40 million annually.
CRIM is the entity in charge of collecting property taxes and distributing them to the municipalities, most of which are in a dire fiscal state.
“As former executive director of the Association of Mayors of Puerto Rico, I consider it important to address the multiple governance and administration problems that for many years have made the Municipal Revenues Collection Center less effective when it comes to collecting revenue that by law it is called to receive,” Hau said. “Furthermore, given the impact that the current economic situation has on each of the 78 municipalities in the country, it is latent and urgent to identify all effective alternatives for public administration within that body, emphasizing its responsibility to collect revenue.”
González, who represents the Mayagüez-Aguadilla district in the Senate and who has extensive experience in the CRIM as regional director and supervisor, pointed out that “it is generally known that each of the municipalities depends, to a great extent, on the remittances they receive from what is collected annually in the CRIM.”
“Therefore, deficiencies that prevent or make it impossible to collect revenues will directly impact the finances of each of the municipalities of Puerto Rico,” she said. “That, in a fiscal situation like ours, is intolerable. Given this, it is necessary that we identify the irregularities that we need to correct and strengthen the existing mechanisms that result in a better collection of income.”
The senators added that it is necessary to have specific data that allow for an X-ray of the current state of CRIM, and the possible use of technological mechanisms that would serve to improve its functions and responsibilities. “For example, it is necessary to know if the existing human capital in the CRIM is sufficient and if these personnel are sufficiently trained to be able to carry out their functions with diligence and effectiveness, and if they have the necessary resources,” Hau said. “Meanwhile, it is essential to have specific data that allows us to know what the delinquency percentage is on the contributions that must be paid.”
The senators’ measure also maintains that it is necessary to expand the communication channels so that the towns themselves, through their mayors and those personnel with an interest in the issues at hand, generate their proposals to address the obstacles faced or identified.