With just over two months left for the regional and municipal elections on May 28, José Luis Martínez Almeida – who in Genoa is defined as “mayor of mayors” of the Popular Party – he is surrounded by criticism for his management of the city. Rather due to its absence, according to the opposition. The truth is that this week a first balance of the accounts of the Madrid City Council in 2022 has been known: Almeida closed the year with a deficit of more than 357 million euros.
It is the figure that the consistory itself recognizes in a report sent to the Ministry of Finance that the newspaper revealed The country and to which you have also accessed Public. Specifically, the City Council calculates an overdraft of 357,448,737.29 euros. The document, of 2,149 pages, reflects an imbalance of more than 270 million euros in the collection forecasts via municipal taxes.
From the Department of Finance of the Madrid City Council they defend in conversation with this medium that it cannot be deduced from this document that the local administration closed the year 2022 in red numbers because the liquidation “is not closed” and must still be approved by the comptroller in the governing board. It will be done in the coming weeks, they assure, and they trust that a positive remnant will emerge there – that is, savings – that will turn the accounts around. “The really important thing is if you have a piggy bank. If we have a positive remainder, part of it will be used for some work,” they respond from the ministry’s cabinet.
This is how Martínez Almeida also defended himself this Thursday: “Until we separate the accounting closing of 2022, we will not know what the specific situation is,” he said at a press conference before the media. But, despite practically taking away all the credibility of the figure, Almeida gave an explanation of the balance that they sent to the Treasury: “What has happened is that the drop in income from the pandemic translated into a lower participation of State income in 270 million euros, but it has been charged in 2022. For electoral reasons? Maybe. Just like the leak of this news”.
The opposition responds: “This deficit has two parts: on the one hand, the city’s money has been squandered on sheet metal and paint without transforming anything, and, on the other, control of tax collection has been lost,” says the councilor and spokesperson for the Treasury of Más Madrid, Miguel Montejoin a telephone conversation with Public.
Uncollected taxes and extended budgets
Montejo refers to the failures that chain the new computer system of the Madrid Tax Agency and that has generated that many Madrid residents have either not been able to pay their taxes or have faced undue collections. In December 2022, three months ago, the number of suggestions and claims regarding the payment of taxes had increased by almost 20% compared to the year 2020.
To all this we must add that Almeida has not been able to carry out the 2023 budgets due to Vox’s veto of the new accounts and he maintains those of 2022 extended. The extreme right, whose votes he needs to govern, led him to start the electoral race without updated budgets. Relations between them broke off in December, but a little more than two months after 28M the demoscopia – also the internal one of the PP – leads Almeida to depend on his support again if he wants to govern Madrid.
Commits himself to “cut ties”
Another open front for the mayor of the capital during almost the entire legislature has been the deterioration of bicimad, Madrid’s electric public bicycle service. Criticism from users for the abandonment of the City Council’s bike network has been falling on deaf ears for the Madrid Administration for years. Until the municipal elections approached and Almeida announced at the end of February that Bicimad would be free from March 7 to July 31.
What promised to be an electoral claim by the mayor of the capital has not turned out as expected by his campaign team because the digital platform for access to the service fails.
Martínez Almeida thus entrusts himself to a campaign in a national key, as Genoa has asked the party –“Either Sánchez or Spain”, Feijóo pointed out to his candidates – and to the revenue that he can get from the trickle of inaugurations that he planned at the gates of the elections. In Cibeles months ago they counted on “cutting many ties” in the weeks prior to 28M and if the capital was “entirely raised by the work”, sources from the City Council acknowledge, it was not bad planning. The other way around.