Well, it’s that time of the year again, a time that fills our hearts with dread… council tax time (amongst others). For residents in La Oliva, the matter gets a little more complicated than that due to recent modifications made by the Town Hall. These changes have created a sensation of anger, worry and helplessness but we are going to have a look at the changes made and how they will affect numerous families in the area.
- Until 02/07/12: Road tax, no parking renewal, commercial signage and rubbish collection
- Until 04/07/12: Property tax and residential rubbish collection
Keep these dates in mind because if you pay outside the established period you will incur additional interest and penalties.
What has Changed?:
Sewage and Drainage: You may have noticed that this tax wasn’t detailed earlier. This is one of the biggest changes for this year. According to the by-law published in the Official Bulletin of the Province of Las Palmas on the fourth of March 2011, the sewage and drainage tax will be tacked onto your water bill. If we paid around 25€ a year before, things have very much changed and many households will see a considerable increase denting the family economy. The above-mentioned amount did not cover all the expenses of the service provided and amazingly had not been amended over the past 22 years despite dragging a huge debt along with it, payable to the Canaragua, the service provider. To give you a clearer image, if the Town Hall issued bills for a total of 600.000 euros a year, not even 60% of the actual service costs were covered.
The first thing I asked myself was why this debt was allowed to accumulate instead of regulating it. To put it simply, nobody paid attention as to where funds came from as long as there was enough money in the treasury to pay municipal outgoings, it didn’t mater. Now, the Town Hall has done a 360 degree turn due to recent cash-flow issues and since adjustments weren’t introduced gradually over the years, we now have to shoulder the burden of huge tax increases all at once. Before, we paid a more or less fixed amount (around 25€), now it has been regulated according to the recorded water consumption of each property. Basically, those who use the service more, pay more.
The water boards, Suministro de Agua La Oliva and the Consorcio de Abastecimiento de Aguas Fuerteventura (CAAF) are responsible for collecting this tax which is then paid into the Town Hall. So that you have revise the new concepts that have been appearing on your water bill since January of this year, the charges are as follows:
Fixed fee: 1€/ month per property
Water purification fee: 0,47€ per cubic metre (m3) of water consumed
Sewage & drainage fee: 0,20€ per cubic metre (m3) of water consumed
Fixed fee: 4 € /month
Water purification fee: 0,51€ per m3 of water consumed
Sewage & drainage fee: 0,20€ per m3 of water consumed
Tourist complexes got a raw deal where these changes are concerned as their fees are a lot higher, so much so that many have formally complained about it. Their fees are as follows:
Fixed fee: 3€/month per bed
Water purification fee: 0,51€ per cubic metre (m3) of water consumed
Sewage & drainage fee: 0,20€ per cubic metre (m3) of water consumed
This means that before they even get round to paying for water consumption they would have already paid a large quantity just on the fixed fee. Imagine a hotel that has 50 bedrooms with 4 beds in each one. Each water bill will include a 600€ charge NOT INCLUDING the water that was actually used, never mind the other two charges that are also based on consumption. The truth is they have valid reasons for complaint.
Property tax (IBI): You will note that this tax has increased a considerable amount also, roughly 18,18% of the property/ land value. If you check your bill from previous years, you will see that the percentage applied was 0,55€ of the property value, well now, the Town Hall of La Oliva has increased it to 0,59% but the Central Government forced a further 10% increase, leaving it at 0,65% during the next two years at least where it may decrease to 0,59% as long as no further changes are made but again, that would depend on the Central Government.
Industrial rubbish collection: This has long been a sore subject for business owners in the municipality as there was no way to find middle ground to calculate this tax. Calculations include many variables (number of employees, size of the commercial unit etc) so it was difficult to make everyone happy with the result but this year is different and calculations have been regulated in such a way that restaurants that normally paid the same amount as a regular shop now pay more. Units smaller than 25m2 in size will pay less whilst those over 100m2 will pay a little more. Additional modules have been included in order to adjust calculations for the diverse activities and businesses in a more satisfactory way.
It doesn’t matter how you look at it, every single local tax has increased between 20% to 30% approximately but the silver lining (and thank goodness there is something positive that can be said) is that it is possible to pay your taxes bit by bit and in line with your possibilities so if you have an extra 20€ spare one week, you can pay it in. The bills are ready for payment now but said payment can be deferred until 20/11/12. The only conditions for this never seen before payment scheme are to pay the entire debt before the afore-mentioned date and to have never defaulted on staged payments if you have ever requested ease of payment from the Town Hall in the past. Download the application form here if it is needed in your case. Interest will apply but there won’t be additional penalties unless the tax is still unpaid come the cut-off date.
Residents are up in arms over the unexpected increase but are they right? In a way, yes. Now for my own point of view on this matter, one that some will share and others not so much but the facts are that the previous administration published this by-law in a sneaky way and that is not on. They may have acted within legal boundaries but on a moral level, their actions are disgraceful. Understandably, taxes go up, that isn’t the point I’m making here. The real point is the way in which the issue has been handled. The Town Hall did not take tax payers’ opinion on-board, it wasn’t open for debate nor did they indicate their intentions before the motion was approved. The biggest problem I see here is that the increase couldn’t have come at a worse time as there are many families with more than one unemployed member that do not make it to the end of the month as it is.
The whole world is watching Spain with abated breath and with good reason. We are going through a fragile time where unemployment is rife and a large portion of the population is struggling. If taxes had been amended little by little over the last few years, the situation will no doubt be very different. It may not have even been necessary to raise taxes this year because we could have possibly finalized 2012 with funds collected during previous year or if it was unavoidable, the increase would have been minimal that wouldn’t have such an impact on household economy. My feeling on the matter is that La Oliva has been mismanaged by those who were elected to protect local families and interests. A series of avoidable events have unravelled creating an additional burden on families already on the edge.
If you need help cutting through the red tape, give Canary Admin Services a call.