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Formentera passes 2019 budget

foto 2018 ple nov 1As the full Formentera Council gathered on Friday for the administration's November assembly, one of the session's standout features was a stamp of initial approval for the Council's 2019 budget.

The almost €30.2 million budget passed with “yes” votes from Gent per Formentera and despite PSOE abstention and “no”s from PP and Compromís party members.

Tax office councillor Bartomeu Escandell called the figures for 2019 “balanced and realistic”. “This budget is built around improvement initiatives for our island and towns. The current focus of infrastructure investment is on transformational change in Sant Ferran, but la Savina and es Pujols are at the fore too”. The councillor highlighted construction already under way on Formentera's senior-living residence as well as the soon-to-be completed funeral parlour—which, as Escandell offered, “together with the dependent care facility and hospital, means our endowment of health and human services now promises something we've talked about on Formentera for years: the freedom to be born and die here on the island, and to live out one's years with dignity.

Other measures

The session also brought resolution for a suit with the local delegation of the central government involving approval of the Council's offering of public employment, set to enter in force next year. The motion passed by unanimous consent.

Another object of cross-party support was the devolution of control over gender and LGTBI policy. The same goes, despite PP abstention, for a set of proposed representations from UTE GIREF, which operates Eivissa's Ca Na Putxa, concerning a deal on investment at the waste and organic matter processing plant.

The close of the assembly came with the reading of the administration's manifesto on violence against women, and an intervention from Sònia Cardona, whose words for the assembly touched on initiatives developed from within the department of citizen participation under her direction in 2018, as well as transparency and good governance.

Resident services, urban upgrades, green policy and local heritage hold spotlight in 2019 budget

foto pressupostos 2019 1At 11.00am this Wednesday Formentera Council chairman Jaume Ferrer was joined in the Sala d'Actes by Bartomeu Escandell, his administration's deputy chair and tax office secretary, for a first-look at the Formentera Council's projected 2019 budget. The total forecast, which tops €30.1 million, is up 12.25% from last year.

That change was possible thanks to an 33% uptick in regional funding (including €9.1 million unlocked by legislation aimed at boosting money for the distinct islands of the archipelago) and the hand-off of powers to promote tourism. Compensation for Formentera's participation in national devolved regional taxes, nearly €4.5 million, is also up 7.8%.

Secretary Escandell said the proposed budget “is about consolidating, both staff and operations, and finding a way to deliver all the services we're committed to on Formentera”. He described the vast majority of spending as “designed to make Formentera more liveable” citing “urban upgrades, heritage recovery and sustainability measures for the environment and mobility”.

According to the tax office chief, most of the investment in the 2019 budget relies on the Council's own cash reserves—proof, he said, “that Formentera is well-equipped to steer such policy”. “This year Formentera will return its debt level to zero”, he confided, “a clear sign the Council is financially fit and can get on just fine without outside financial support”.

Spending
The budget projects €10.8 million for employee pay. In the coming year, new facilities like la Savina's nautical sports centre, the cultural venue at la Mola's lighthouse, a funeral home, an elderly care home, a programme to regulate mooring at Estany des Peix and the planned tourism observatory included in the power hand-off on tourism promotion.

Current spending, moreover, has stabilised at approximately €11 million, with contracts for waste collection and cleaning accounting for the lion's share. Real investment is also up—from €4.5 million last year to an expected €6.2 million in 2019.

Projected cash flow
Gains from direct levies—forecasted to approach €6.4 million—echo the figures seen last year and in 2017, marking an overall stabilisation of tax earnings.

Current transfers are projected to climb as well, going from €12.4 million in 2018 to €14.3 million in 2019.

Investment criteria
In 2018 the Formentera Council's total direct investment on the island will total €6.2 million. Privileged areas of investment include continued upgrades to urban areas and tourism infrastructure, with projects in Sant Ferran like improvements on avinguda Joan Castelló i Guasch in Sant Ferran (€1.8 million), a children's park (€210,000) and a fitness circuit (€100,000) as well as a designated green space to the east of Sant Francesc and a skate park (€170,000).

Path-breaking solutions in sustainable mobility and green retrofitting are both set to get priority as well. Such measures include regulation schemes for moorage at Estany des Peix (€650,000) and inbound automobiles (€350,000) as well as a bid from within the CiF office of patrimony to build a museum into la Mola's lighthouse (€140,000). Other initiatives like funding for operations and participation at the Consell d'Entitats (€325,000) and incorporating investment in the group's selected projects (€635,000) reflect the Council's ongoing commitment to promoting citizen participation.

Lastly, a nearly €2 million residence for the aged and €200,000 for construction related to the island's anticipated funeral parlour mean investment in infrastructure and basic services hitherto unavailable on Formentera.

Consolidation
The Formentera Council is working to cement its role as service provider and advocate for decent employment. This year the administration will restore the 35-hour work week for the 330 islanders it employs (27.5% more than at the start of the legislative term).

Formentera firefighters train in simulated blaze in La Savina port

foto bombers simulacre 2018 3The president's office of the Formentera Council reports that local firefighters were joined by members of the local police, harbour police and civil defence as they took part in an exercise involving a simulated fire affecting a fuel lorry near the petrol station in La Savina harbour.

Typically performed once yearly, simulations of this kind are part of the port's safety strategy and serve to measure the time emergency services take responding to fires and spills.

Today's simulated incident involved the unloading of a fuel lorry with a defective hose that caught fire after suffering an initial leak. The operation consisted in getting the leak under control and then extinguishing the fire all while maintaining safe conditions in the surrounding area and keeping flames from spreading.

Department head Bartomeu Escandell said the exercise was about “gauging collaboration between the port authority and the distinct security and prevention forces of the Formentera Council in emergency situations”. Escandell highlighted the island's recent deployment of a fire engine belonging to Balearic port authority, “it's an extremely useful tool that will help us improve how we prevent and put out fires, both in La Savina's harbour and across the island”.

Beginning at 10.00am and finished by roughly 10.45am, the simulation saw the participation of four firefighters with heavy goods vehicles, six civil protection volunteers with two vehicles, four officers on the local police force and another two from the harbour police.

Formentera fire crew deployed in response to fierce winds

foto vendaval 2018 1Formentera firefighters have responded to several incidents caused by strong winds on the island this Monday morning.

At 11.00am the crew snapped into action in Sant Ferran to keep telephone pole on the side of avinguda Joan Castelló Guasch from toppling over. They also stepped in to take down shutters in danger of falling from a first-storey flat and another lamp dangling precariously from a post.

Lastly, crew members cut and removed a small tree that winds had left in the middle of the road.

Formentera takes look back on summer '19 lifeguard service

foto socorristes fi temporada 2018 3The president's office of the Formentera Council, whose remit includes the island's beach lifeguard and rescue service, reports that the service's annual halt in summer operations took place last week. The team worked from May 1 to October 31.

For six months, a team that numbered as many as 23 lifeguards “worked to assure the safety of Formentera's beaches and swimming areas”, noted department head Bartomeu Escandell, who highlighted the “dedication and professionalism” of the team.

Incidents in summer 2018

Lifeguards responded to 3,025 cases involving everything sun burns to spills, cuts, scrapes and bumps. They also assisted in stings by greater weever (a poisonous fish), sea urchins and jellyfish—at 2,992, this last group was the largest.

Seventy individuals were rescued from potentially dangerous situations in the water, a type of rescue most common when the yellow flag flies, which means beachgoers can still swim but are encouraged to apply caution, something some fail to take into account. Another twelve rescues happened involving individuals on boats. Likewise, a total of 23 people were taken to hospital in ambulance.

The president's office is saddened to report on three deaths that occurred this season at Cala Saona. One person died after going into cardiopulmonary arrest while in the water, a second suffered a heart attack in the sand and a third threw themself off the cliffs near the beach at twilight. Red-flag days, when swimmers are expressly banned from entering the water, made up for 62 days this summer.

In addition to on-the-clock duties, the team also intervened to provide emergency assistance to crews of ships involved in accidents, and helped tow watercraft during off-duty hours.

Formentera beaches: accessible and equipped for heart-attack response

Arenals and Es Pujols beaches feature accessible-swimming options for individuals with reduced mobility. The service, available from 12 noon to 5.00pm when the green flag flies, was requested this year by 37 people. All lifeguard posts without exception are fitted with defibrilators to assist in cases of possible cardiopulmonary arrest.

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