PDP mayors: Fiscal problems in island towns are Pierluisi’s fault
By The Star Staff
With the Nov. 3 election just around the corner, Popular Democratic Party (PDP) mayors on Monday accused New Progressive Party (NPP) gubernatorial candidate Pedro Pierluisi of being an “accomplice” in the drafting of a fiscal plan that keeps the 78 municipalities enduring dire fiscal problems.
The mayors said the NPP administration prepared and submitted a fiscal plan to the Financial Oversight and Management Board that contained a reduction of allocations to municipalities at a time when Pierluisi was a lawyer for the firm O’Neill & Borges, which represents the oversight board in bankruptcy matters.
The mayors spoke at a press conference held at PDP headquarters in the Puerta de Tierra ward of San Juan.
“He is an accomplice. Throughout this process of approving the fiscal plan, it was Pedro Pierluisi who was advising the [oversight] board,” Villalba Mayor Luis Javier Hernández Ortiz said.
Hernández Ortiz said Pierluisi brought the mayor of Orocovis to the oversight board, who saw him advising the federal entity about the pilot project in which 10 municipalities were declared covered entities by the board.
Comerío Mayor Josian Santiago stressed that the fiscal plan, beyond being an administrative matter that is affecting the municipalities’ operations, is a matter that also has to do with the political process.
“We are 15 days away from the elections and we must say a few things to the people who are going to make an important decision on November 3 about the people who will represent them,” Santiago said. “The fiscal plan that we are facing today due to the imposition of the board was approved by the NPP administration and [the current] candidate for governor for that party was an adviser to the board at that time.”
Loíza Mayor Julia Nazario Fuentes emphasized the importance of municipalities bringing their services to the public.
“After hurricanes Irma and Maria, it was the municipalities that first responded,” she said. “I will never forget the day I arrived at the [Puerto Rico] Convention Center for the first time and what was there was totally different from what I was experiencing with my people in Loíza. Where was Mr. Pierluisi when all this was happening?”
The mayors listed the amount of money that was eliminated from the towns. The oversight board opted to eliminate transfers from the central government to cover $133 million in exemptions, $227 million in the parity fund while asking municipalities to pay for the retirement of employees and health insurance despite an agreement with the central government.
In March 2019, 10 municipalities were designated as covered entities by the oversight board, requiring them to provide fiscal plans and budgets, but Hernández Ortiz insisted the whole thing was a fraud.