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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”.

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.

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 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 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 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.

Formentera OKs deal with IBISEC to build nursery and primary schools in Sant Ferran

foto ple oct 018Gathered in plenary today, members of the Formentera Council green-lighted an approval measure for a deal to delegate building of Sant Ferran's school and nursery (escoleta) to IBISEC. Today's step precedes the actual signing of the deal by Govern and Council, which will in turn set in motion tender of the project and the build itself, executed by IBISEC. The Council is tapping municipal coffers to fund 16 per cent of the future escoleta's VAT-including €6.9-million price tag.

Education secretary Susana Labrador welcomed the bipartisanship on display as council members voted to move forward with construction, describing the new schools as “infrastructure our children need to learn”.

Assembly members were united in support for initiating the first stage in the approval process for Formentera's gender equality plan, or pla d'igualtat, for 2019 to 2022.

Social welfare secretary Vanessa Parellada emphasised how important support for the equality plan was to “helping islanders juggle work and family and promoting equality in leisure and sport”, both of which she called “crucial to a more equitable culture and gender violence prevention”.

Other measures
Initial approval also came for the administrative underpinnings of the island's future funeral parlour and a tax ordinance for mortuary services as council members congregated at the conference hall of the island's dependent care facility. Senior cabinet members from the Gent per Formentera party won consensus on proposals relative to the Council's adhesion to a regional hiring service and the Consell d'Entitats's membership rolls.

The Popular Party won the backing of the full chamber for upgrades on a drainage pipe at the island's nature reserve and the six-am ferry from Formentera to Eivissa. Comments on the measures were also submitted by the advisory committee.

When a PSOE proposal about the bid to regulate boat moorage on the Estany des Peix shoreline scored “yes” votes from everyone but GxF party members, the latter countered by proposing a transactional solution which was ultimately adopted.

Compromís operatives won support for a proposal on Spain's public employment service (SEPE) and the advisory committee again suggested improvements. Another measure, which senior cabinet members successfully lobbied to make transactional, was about emergency ambulances.

Following secretary Alejandra Ferrer's turn appraising assembly members of efforts underway in the land and tourism departments, the administration's official pronouncement concerning the International Day of Action for Trans Depathologisation closed the session.

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