VRSA budget foresees more investment, but also debt reduction

Socialist executive, in power for a year, guarantees that the stability of the municipality's accounts is assured

Photos: Nuno Costa | Sul Informação

A budget for 2023 that «increases investment and maintains focus on supporting families», while ensuring the «structural stability of the municipality’s accounts» and allowing «debt reduction and control of current expenditure» was approved by the Municipal Assembly of Vila Real de Santo António.

According to the Chamber of VRSA, the document «reflects 21,7 million euros of capital revenue related to the revision of the Municipal Support Plan, in order to be able to settle all situations of outstanding debt for several years, translating into a budget of 43,5 million euros».

Taking into account the complicated financial situation of the municipality, whose true dimension was ascertained by an internal audit recently completed – Álvaro Araújo, mayor for a year, talks about situations that made him lose sleep -, this is a dimension that is very present in the VRSA OM for 2023.

In this way, the executive's planning «continues the path of financial sustainability of the municipality and establishes a set of measures to optimize structural revenue and to control and contain current expenditure».

«Despite the constraints stipulated by the Municipal Support Fund (FAM) and the heavy legacy liabilities, the proposal ensures investment in priority areas, safeguarding the requalification of infrastructures and equipment that require urgent maintenance, boosting and valuing the municipality and its people» , assured the municipality.

The 2023 budget «also assumes the obligations inherent to the internalization of the now extinct municipal company Sociedade de Gestão Urbana (SGU) and fully complies with the process of decentralization of competences».

With regard to investment, there will be an attempt to take advantage of the funds from the Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) «in all its dimensions (100% reimbursed), where the social area deserves special relevance, namely the local housing strategy, for which 12 million euros are earmarked for the acquisition of housing units at controlled costs and for the start of rehabilitation of social housing units».

In the area of ​​health, «we highlight the work to expand the Health Centers in Monte Gordo and Vila Nova de Cacela, in a total investment of 350 thousand euros».

Investment in public space is also planned, namely a «strategy to boost the Open Air Shopping Center of VRSA, through the approval of the Bairros Digitais project, for which an investment of 1,4 million euros is foreseen. In terms of administrative modernization, the sum of 900 thousand euros is allocated to the implementation of a Citizen's Shop», according to the Chamber of VRSA.

The refurbishment of the VRSA Sports Complex, which will involve an investment of more than half a million euros, «with emphasis on the renovation of the runway and the launch area, as well as the rehabilitation of the changing rooms and the water heating system», is another of the planned investments.

"Equally noteworthy is the budgetary portion intended for intervention in streets and public spaces, whose state reveals the absence of replacement of asphalt mass in recent years, as well as the funds intended for requalification works of the António Aleixo Cultural Centre", adds the municipality.

At the internal level and in general functions, «the investment in the modernization of the municipality's machine and vehicle park and in the updating of the municipality's computer park, which was on the verge of failure, should be highlighted, whose amounts amount to 500 thousand euros».

For the mayor of Vila Real de Santo António, Álvaro Araújo, «despite the constraints, the work carried out over the first year of his mandate allows this budget, contrary to what has happened for several years, to have a strong investment".

«More relevant than the overall amount of the budget is the fact that investment expenditure amounts to around 14 million euros, an amount much higher than that which had been presented in previous budgets», continues the mayor.

Although it is not yet legally possible for the City Council to stop taxing citizens and property owners with the maximum rate of IMI in 2023, «it is not foreseen to update rents and fees based on the value of inflation predicted by the INE, easing, thus, the tax burden for families and companies in the municipality in the current economic context».

According to Álvaro Araújo, «the strategic options for 2023 will thus continue to maintain priority on people and on solving structural problems, restoring the City Council’s credibility with suppliers, banking and public entities, without neglecting the indispensable sanitation of municipal accounts».

The Chamber emphasizes that, in the process of drawing up the budget, «all the parties that competed in the last municipal elections were invited, even those that did not manage to have a seat in the Municipal Assembly, in order to provide prior knowledge of the same and clarify doubts».