So I heard you want to be a Mayor?

On Puerto Rico… are you sure?

There are 78 municipalities in PR and they are the equivalent of a City Hall in the states. In the 78 they speak Spanish, and I wake up today and say let me share some facts from my personal City Hall experience so other persons can understand how the PR government works.

Alcaldia building
  • 1) Around 26 demands running concurrently.
  • 2) Around 4 million in debt. (debt will change YEAR by YEAR).
  • 3) Around 475 employees (one employee currently working in the hall while running a demand against the city at the same time).
  • 4) The salary of the mayor will be base on the population of that municipality. Around $7000 each month.
  • 5) The office of the comptroller, sends the auditors every 2 years to the city hall, and their reports can be search on the internet.
  • 6) Each worker accumulate “acumula” 2.5 Regulars and 1.5 Sick each month. While under license the worker won’t stop accumulating for the month. The current government pass a new act “ley 26” that change those numbers (starting on July 1 2017) for the state government, but not necessarily for the city hall employees.
  • 7) 20 cellulars that are paid by the taxpayers from Claro company. Around $1,300 each month for this bill. Claro is the equivalent to COMCAST/ATT&T.
  • 8) The City Hall always paid on time to their employees, two times a month the 15 and the 30. But the mayor can change the pay day at their will. The city pay with a check or direct deposit.
  • 9) Employees can request a upfront pay check with a letter “carta” in which the mayor can approve or deny.
  • 10) A broken human resource system is in place that costs the city around $75,000. Some cities using successfully KRONOS human resource solution.
Pica
  • 11) Each year, the city celebrate “Fiestas Patronales”, that’s some sort of public party with Carnaval style. But given the fiscal crisis, some cities like Cayey have opted to cancel the party starting 2017–2018 fiscal year… On each “día patronal” you can play “en la pica”, wood horses legal gambling.
  • 12) W2 (IRS) and 480(Hacienda) are given to the employees each year.
  • 13) Some couples working on the Hall( and some break-ups also).
  • 14) Some drugs-users also working inside. No easy way to let them go.
  • 15) The city hall is spread in different buildings through the town.
  • 16) Some city hall buildings “edificios” are currently under rent.
  • 17) The fiscal year end on June 30. The budget should be approved before June 15. The law say that if a new budget is not approved for the new fiscal year, the budget from the previous year will be used again.
  • 18) The budget is a lie, that only the local legislators are the ones who really believe on it. The mayor/finance director change the budget, sometimes without approval from nobody at their will.
  • 19) The trash collection company can take up to 30% of the budget of a City Hall. The trash collection company were paid $1,761,419.45 in one fiscal year, and the debt for this company is around 1 million. In the city, the condos (equivalent to “community rentals apartments”) pay their own trash recollection. My city paid $180,000 each month for the trash collection for around 50,000 residents.
  • 20) TAX: 1.% is for the local city gov, 10.5% for the state gov. Some websites charges the TAX while others not. Apple company charges taxes even in the app store purchases.
  • 21) No electric bill is paid on this City Hall. The Hall it is not energy-star, (believe me on this) through each city pay the water bill. But through a new change in the AEE, I start seeing some bills “facturas” arriving at the municipality starting from July 2016, some change to the CELI treatment.
  • 22) Paid summer bonus (around $400), paid Christmas Bonus (around $1000), paid employees who have excess of the 90 days sick “el enfermito”, and paid in excess of 60 days vacations.
  • 23) The mayor can add an employee at their will with a phone call. The mayor can’t remove an employee at their will so easily.
  • 24) The principal source of income is the CRIM, and “Patentas”.
  • 25) Each contract of the city, have to be upload to the office of the comptroller, by law.
  • 26) In some cities, the roster “nomina” can take up to 60% of the budget.
  • 27) A single audit is done each year by a private firm.
  • 28) The City Hall paid each month around $5,000 for Claro/PRTC services bill.
  • 29) The accounting system is from the 80’s running in Unix AIX, while there is around 40 city hall using a new one (Microsoft dynamics GP). The city pay close to $1200.00 each month for support on this accounting system from The Phoenix Company.
  • 30) Around 15 employees charge $1400.00 each one in car allowance every 6 months. Is on the budget.
  • 31) There’s controversy in the public trash business, some cities start to charge for the trash picked up, while some citizens start to argue that the TAX was for this purpose.

Do you think you have big balls?

Going to the Mayor office to leave your trash.
  • 32) 16 local legislators. They are paid between $1350 to $4425 each year.
  • 33) The city work each fiscal year with around 200 “suppliers”. Each local legislator count as a supplier and each owner of rented housing with federal funds, count as a supplier.
  • 34) To manage the CDBG funds, the city use a Living System (more old than my grandmother) that I believe is develop in COBOL. The program inspect the rental housing frequently, and if the director of the program believes a tenant is breaking the rules, they refer you to a private investigator.
  • 35) Around 140 emails address for the city employees.
  • 36) Retiro (Some social security equivalent) is at 16.775% for fiscal year 2017–2018, for the fiscal year 2020–2021 it will be at 20.525%. The city have to input Retiro info through a web interface. Some 5 years ago the interface was in paper. If you are a transient employee, the city won’t discount you Retiro savings amount or I should say the “fee amount” I don’t know. Permanent employees are deducted Retiro and Social Security of the salary.
  • 37) There are more than 200,000 public employees under AEELA, the members are require to put at least 3% of their monthly salary in AEELA “savings account”.
  • 38) Some cities can be “autonomous”, while others not, the autonomous ones are under law 81.
  • 39) The FEI can pull apart the Mayor, from their work.
  • 40) Some nepotism around. The sons and family members of a city-legislator working inside the city hall.
  • 41) The culture that predominates is that of hiding the information.
  • 42) The mayor who brings me to the job, is currently on jail.
  • 43) Each year without fail one or two mayors ends on the jail.
  • 44) The state government is reducing around $350 millions to the cities budget in the next two fiscal years(2017–2018, 2018–2019). $175 million per fiscal year.
  • 45) “Banco gubernamental de fomento” — The only bank in the world that can give you a loan without source of repayment , had freezes the cities money accounts. In my city they freeze around half million dollars. So YES! a government entity is against another government entity in the courts.
  • 46) When I join the City hall in 2011, the employees won’t have work emails address “name@city.gov.pr”. So I setup Exchange with OWA for them.
  • 47) At the beginning of 2012, they were using a T1 to get internet access. Now they have a symmetric fiber optics internet access with a MPLS network, running on Cisco hardware. Guest what! they don’t include Information Technology on the budget, some employees at the city are still using Windows XP SP1 computers.
  • 48) The finance department is working with 44 bank accounts. The principal bank is Puerto Rico is Popular, and the system for the cities is call web-cash manager.
  • 49) By law, the mayor don’t get paid the Christmas jingle bell bonus or the summer bonus.
  • 50) If you need to go to Vieques or Culebra City Hall, the travel will be by plane or boat. Travel time in boat? Is a random process, Isla Bonita boat 1 hour 15 minutes, Santa Maria boat 2 hours 15 minutes. The travel time to Culebra regardless of the boat is 15 minutes more.
  • 51) The Claro/PRTC company cut the Internet Service from Vieques on June 2017, 8 months without payments to the provider.
  • 52) For the city which I work, there are 154 pensioners from Retiro, and the money amount to disburse in the month for all of them is close to $110,000.00 “Pay Go Charge”.
  • 53) The Fondo del Seguro del Estado, was up 10% for 2017–2018 fiscal year.
  • 54) As a government agency, you will need to submit a report to OCALARH “Human Resource” in which you will need Office InfoPath 2007, Internet Explorer 7 and some patience to be able to fill the report. Funny?
  • 55) The city hall manage around 45 different bank accounts, some federal money needs to be in their own account, by law.

So this were my 55 fast-checking points. Yes you can be a mayor, but it not always so easy.

IT Cowboy