Pay rise for Mogán councillors who suddenly increase rates and slash funding for social needs on Gran Canaria
On the same day as one Onalia Bueno publicly led a “protest march” ostensibly to “save tourism”, which was attended by a range of citizens, who arrived en masse in the popular tourist resort town wanting to remove migrants from being temporarily accommodated in empty hotels, and were then applauded by the far-right, the town hall also, more quietly, had a meeting to discuss spending budgets for next year. Local news team El Sur Digital GC report that Nueva Canarias (NC), a political party vocally opposed to the current mayor’s CIUCA administration in Mogán, say the sudden rates increases and new taxation, voted through last Friday, coupled with huge reductions in social care provisions for the municipality, forecast a very hard 2021 ahead for families and businesses on the southwest of Gran Canaria.
This latest budget includes works and income expected from two modernisation plans which have been voided and suspended, and a whopping 19.54% pay rise for Mogán councillors themselves and their advisors.
In the plenary session, held last Friday, November 27, at the Mogán town hall, the town council, led by the controversial mayor Bueno (CIUCA), approved a municipal budget for 2021, reducing spending by 42.4% from the final 2020 budget, that is to say more than €33 million less. While a reduction in spending plans might well be forgiven, under the current economic conditions, NC councillor Isabel Santiago finds it a little difficult to swallow a pay rise for the mayor and her circle.
The municipal budget, appears to represent everything contrary to how the finance councillor presented it, who introduced it as “consistent with the economic and financial situation of our environment, in which the families most affected by the consequences of the global crisis… continue to demand that the administrations provide answers to their main problems”.
Nueva Canarias (NC) spokeswoman, Isabel Santiago, claimed, after analysing the public accounts, that this budget has more to do with “Alice in Wonderland” than with any commitment to the citizens of Mogán, a commitment that should be expected from political leaders.
In a scathing attack on the proposals, having looked at the anticipated income from rates and increases to public costs, amounting to 11.58%, the opposition representative said that this budget only confirms brutal increases in the tax burden on residents, along with anyone who carries out their economic activity in Mogán.
She highlighted what appears to be a new “tax” derived from this administration’s awarded contract for solid waste (rubbish) collection services in Mogán, which will mean a rates increase for the provision of this service. This sudden rise, which will affect all citizens resident in Mogán, and especially employers, meaning that, for example, those living in social housing will pay from €60 to €82.47 and everyone else €108.38. Even more blood hungry, the tourist hotels and aparthotels, so badly hit over the last 6 months, will now see increases of up to 243.6%, according to NC estimates. This budget foresees a 19.25% increase in income from the provision of basic town hall services.
This increase in the tax burden is accompanied by a package of cuts to key areas meant to support the most vulnerable groups, reducing resources allocated to promoting employment by 7.16%, education by 26.62 %, culture by 28.65%, sports by 12.55%, agriculture, livestock and fishing decreases by 10.37%, environmental policies cut by 1.52%, and even community welfare will suffer a reduction 14.63%.
A barrage of cuts that starkly contrasts with the increase in the amounts needed to finance the salaries and furnish a pay rise for Mogán town councillors and their advisers, which now grows by a further 19.54%, reaching more than €800,000 per year.
Bueno has already come under fire in the past for giving herself the highest possible salary, having already been called out for having one of the highest mayoral salaries in the south (already grossing €55,000 (bruto) in 2016 + more than €14,000 annually to pay her social security), as well as having given a selective pay rise for Mogán advisors alleged to be favourites and family members, in 2019, working in the administration and now we see that there is to be more money for the powerful, and significantly less for the poor people of Mogán, many of whom depend on their public servants to look out for them, while they try to survive on less than 500€ a month.
To top it all off, NC have expressed surprise at an expenditure policy that depends heavily on investments planned until 2022, focusing on the completion of two public car parks, expected to raise more than €14 million, but abandoning all the investments in other much-needed areas, such as improving the public water supply network, which has been suffering repeated problems for years, and in just the last month has had to be restricted three times due to various problems including elevated levels of dangerous chemicals like Boron having been detected.
Santiago points out that it is no joke that the budget for 2021 refers to investments that will be developed and income to be obtained under modernisation plans that have been legally declared invalid, while not a single penny is collected from tourism.
In short, says the NC spokesperson, the accounts of mayor Onalia Bueno do not contain a single measure, not a single project aimed at rebuilding the local economy or local companies or helping citizens of Mogán. They accuse this administration of turning its back on businessmen who are requesting IBI and IAE relief, it reduces financial support to promote employment, disregards the primary sector, does not adopt any measure aimed at improving the tourism destination and through an increase in the burden to ordinary citizens raises public costs and introduces a new “tax” to pay for the solid waste collection services.
This budget predicts a very hard 2021 for families and the business sector of Mogán, concludes Isabel Santiago.