Aguada, Barceloneta, Gurabo, Hormigueros and Florida They are the first five town councils that will participate in the Municipal Innovation Laboratory driven by the League of Cities of Puerto Rico, which aims to create a new governance model that promotes the administrative and fiscal strengthening of the towns and meets the needs of the people.
“The objective is to strengthen the capacity of the municipal government and the municipal ecosystem. “It is to increase the amount of funds that reach the municipality directly”he claimed Cristina Miranda Palaciosdirector and founder of the League of Cities of Puerto Rico, a non-governmental organization that promotes a work agenda focused on the impact of local governments on the quality of life of its inhabitants.
This approach is defined by the group as a “municipalist agenda,” said Miranda Palacios, in an interview with The new day.
The five municipalities that will participate in the initiative – as a pilot plan – accepted the invitation of the entity, which has $3.6 million in funds to be used in this project in the next four years, at a rate of $500,000 for each municipality.
“The idea is to start with these five municipalities this year. “They are going to be with us for a year, as members of the class”held.
The selected municipalities represent “a variety. There are none from the metropolitan area,” said Miranda Palacios.
There are coastal areas, rural areas, developed urban areas, expanding ones, small ones, founded for many or a few years and with four re-elected mayors and one who is in his first four-year term. The commitment of the participating mayors is to promulgate what they have learned among their peers, highlighted the founder.
He anticipated that, soon, they will announce a new tool for municipalities: a navigator that will allow them to know about all the proposals available to access federal funds.
“It has a readiness evaluation to know if the municipality is ready to compete,” he said.
Elections should not affect the project
When asked about the possibility that some mayors will not renew their positions after the 2024 elections, Miranda Palacios acknowledged that it is “a possibility.”
“We would anticipate continuing and having it be part of the transition. “The role of government continues independent of the election.”declared the director, for whom “the municipality is not the mayor, but (it is) an entire ecosystem.”
Jerry Maldonadovice president of programs Policy Link, who makes contributions to the Laboratory, commented that “what we have to do is, basically, develop a new model for municipalities, so that they focus on equity, transparency and accounting.”
“We believe that the launch of the League’s Municipal Innovation Laboratory represents an important moment for the people of Puerto Rico and a special opportunity for mayors to develop and strengthen skills around community power, transparency, fiscal responsibility and economic well-being”he expressed.
Miranda Palacios explained, meanwhile, that “the Laboratory is made up of the main initiatives of the League… a main assessment component that we have developed with the support of our ‘partners’, of 10 indicators of good municipal governance divided into categories base, intermediate and transformer. “This will lead to the creation of a municipal innovation plan, with metrics.”
The 10 indicators
The 10 indicators by which the evaluation is governed are significant community participation, whether the services respond to the needs of the community, having a view and promoting equity, being informed of what is happening in Puerto Rico and internationally, and whether the staff municipal is strong.
Also, it is considered whether there is intentional planning for the future, fiscal responsibility, transparency of information, whether reliable services are provided, promoting economic well-being and whether the mayor defends his municipality above his party.
“These 10 factors represent a new governance system. That is very important,” Maldonado highlighted.
Meanwhile, Miranda Palacios added that “A municipality that meets the 10 indicators of good municipal governance is a municipality that is strengthened not only at the fiscal and administrative level, but also a municipality that has an equity perspective.”
Likewise, he said that a municipal innovation committee, made up of 4 to 5 people – representatives of the community, the mayor, municipal employees and merchants – will be in charge of choosing a need or problem to address, designing the solution and acting.
“We don’t want resilience. We want systemic changes. What is it? Changes to ossified structures of government, changes that allow other people to insert themselves into things from the bottom up. “Puerto Rico is a highly politicized and centralized country,” she warned.
At the same time, he pointed out that “there are no simple solutions. There is no band-aid. There is no magic wand. It is municipalist work from the bottom up. “A systematic change focused on equity so that municipalities can fulfill their function of serving the people.”
The Laboratory is possible thanks to contributions from the Magic Cabinet, Policy Link and Ford Foundation foundations.