City council approves seven million peso payout for settlements

By Antonio De Jesús Aguado

Last month, the municipality approved the first modifications to the 2012 municipal budget. One of those modifications includes paying out seven million pesos for settlements to directors and coordinators of the current administration as well as others from the 2006–2009 government, which concluded its term with a public debt of more than 100 million pesos.

On June 26, in a city council meeting, with eight votes the first modification to the municipal budget was approved. The assistant mayor, Claudio Mayer, said that this modification was made with the aim of establishing the basis and regulations that will help the next administration operate under the best possible conditions. According to Mayer, the current government had a complicated situation, starting with a public debt of more than 70 million pesos and a debt to suppliers of more than 60 million pesos, which was “terrible for finances.”

The assistant mayor said that when they began their administration (October 10, 2009) there was not even gasoline for the garbage trucks. “It was impossible to start working, because the budgets are done yearly, and we did not have money the first three months.” For that reason, the municipal government asked for state and federal aid. Mayer made it clear that “currently our intention is not to spend all the money and leave debts for the new administration; on the contrary, we are doing positive work so they won’t have problems at the beginning.” He also said that the next administration will have enough financial resources to begin operations.

About the authorization for settlements of seven million pesos, Mayer commented that the law states that the directors, coordinators and trusted employees (empleados de confianza) should receive severance pay, “and that implies a lot of money.” Mayer commented that the last administration did not pay its directors this liquidación and left the debt to this administration. “We could not pay them, even if we knew that we had to do it, so they sued the municipality, which was not necessary because we could have reached an agreement,” Mayer said, adding that it was complicated to achieve a balance in the finances but now they have done so.

Mayer said that when the current administration took office there were more than 1,200 employees, and they reduced that number to about 900. “All the employees who were dismissed needed a liquidación,” he commented. He hopes that the next administration is rational about expenditures and “avoids the hiring of relatives or friends because of campaign promises in order not to increase the number of employees.” According to Mayer the number of retired municipal employees keeps growing, and without vigilance and restraint in about 20 years there could be a financial collapse.

Mayer said that the administration works with a budget of less than 500 million pesos yearly, 60 percent of which goes toward operating expenses. They will leave an administration with healthy finances. “If we decide to spend all the money that would be primitive and negative. We are working to leave enough money to the next administration so they can start working. We are going to make a clear and transparent handing over of the administration, and we will provide them all the needed information in order to support them, and we will not steal the files,” he said. From the next administration he expects responsibility and transparency.

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