Monday, 31 October 2011

And you thought your Council was overdoing the expenses

VILLAMARTÍN / Cádiz  The town of Villamartín, in the province of Cádiz (pop.12,570) closed the financial year of 2010 with an official debt of €16 million, aside from several judicial sentences against it but including the €7 million it owes the State for Social Security non-payment. No news here, as almost every municipality in Spain is up to its gills in debt. But things are (probably) different in Villamartín. The new PA government has found an inheritance of bills put down to 'entertainment' and 'protocol' that had Councillor Antonia Viruel using what is possibly the Spanish understatement of the year: "It is well beyond the strictly necessary." She adds that the number of bills is exorbitant and "we have only been able to check the bills from the first socialist (PSOE) legislature" (2003 to 2007). See for yourself:>>>
In only the last of those years, expenses for food and drink for the then Mayor, José Luis Calvillo, and part of his team, amounted to over €27,000. Included are lunches 'to prepare the feria programme, events for Holy Week' and even 'a lunch to prepare the municipal budgets'. "It's not as though there aren't enough offices or meeting rooms at the Town Hall," says Antonia Viruel. The so-called business lunches include king prawns at €100 the kilo, regular prawns (presumably less expensive), clams, roast suckling pig and bottles of wine at more than €40 each.

Councillor Viruel points out that each meal ended with several rounds of drinks, including whisky, gin or rum. Among these was one that hosted 23 people to celebrate Día de Andalucía. It cost €922.

During the feria of 2004, the then mayor and some members of his team, added up bills for three meals, charged to the Council, to the tune of €2,994.

"While some meals may well be justified, such as those for an institutional visit," concludes the Councillor, "most of these were for political or organizational meetings that could easily have been carried out in municipal facilities without the need for going out to a restaurant."

The present (PA) government has said officially that it regrets that its predecessors have left this kind of inheritance in a municipality that is not receiving funds from the PIE because it owes so much toSocial Security, "whom it has never paid."

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