The opposition calls the tax freeze in Reus "electoralist"
Neither taxes nor municipal fees will rise next 2023. The City Council freezes them together with the rates of companies and autonomous bodies. The decision, expected in an election year, was justified yesterday by the mayor, Carles Pellicer, as "a support measure for families and businesses in the city" coinciding with a time of "great international political and economic uncertainty, with runaway inflation and the price of electricity skyrocketed». "The City Council shows the best economic and financial health of the last ten years and has muscle," he stressed. The fiscal ordinances will be approved, together with the budget files for the following year, in the November plenary session.
The Pellicer stage will thus end with three tax increases, which the government has always defended on the basis of the CPI. The first was executed for 2012 and represented an average increase of 6%. The second had an impact of 9.7% in 2020 and the most recent was applied for this present 2022 and was set at 2%. Regarding the freeze announced yesterday, the mayor specified that «when it has not been possible, it has not been done; but now we can and we do”.
Pellicer also assured that the tax credits approved in recent times will not be reversed. The most innovative include a 70% reduction in the IBI fee for properties with income limited by legal regulations and advantages for vehicles classified as zero-emissions or with equivalent characteristics. It is not clear if any more could be introduced that have not yet been revealed. The government's intention is for both the new budget and the ordinance file to take effect on January 1, 2023.
The Federació d'Associacions de Veïns de Reus (FAVR), led by Marcos Massó, celebrates the move. "Just to freeze, not to increase more, the opinion has to be positive," says Massó, who recalls that "life has become very difficult for everyone and it's not just electricity, but gas, gasoline, buying ...». "This is a good detail," he emphasizes, taking into account that "many people do not make it to the end of the month."
In general terms, for the president of the FAVR, "the assessment is good." It was not so when the City Council walked in the opposite direction and applied increases. In 2019, the Federation –and other entities– collected thousands of signatures opposing the 9.7% increase. That, "everything was left in a drawer, without a solution, and we have not heard anything since," recalls Massó. The lack of response generated discouragement in the neighbors, who in 2021 hardly planted massive resistance to a new increase.
Yesterday, Pellicer stated that “we must dedicate economic health to improving services and quality of life for people and citizens; that's the goal." She did it in a public appearance of fiscal ordinances that he resolved in just over eight minutes, together with the councilor of Hisenda, Mariluz Caballero. And he stressed that "we have reduced the municipal debt by 70% in nine years and the rigorous management has had a translation in the investment capacity."
The mayor sent a "message of optimism" to "give confidence to families, companies and workers." "The City Council has capacity," he stressed, and reiterated that "no tax ordinance will be uploaded, they are totally frozen, not even the CPI." By not touching the rates of municipal companies either, the prices of services such as the bus, water or the cemetery remain as they are.
Eyes on the elections
For the head of the opposition, Andreu Martín (PSC), in addition to being an "electoral staging", the freeze "is relative". “At the beginning of the mandate there was a rise of almost 10%” and “taking into account the fiscal pressure that citizens have, it is not surprising that there are no new increases or are necessary,” adds the socialist. Martín indicates that "proof of this are the continuous surpluses that the government has had."
"The announcement is ahead of the elections, it is clear," also says Mònica Pàmies, councilor for the CUP, who says that "assessments of increases must be made by mandates and not year after year." If this were done, "the increase has been incredible considering the situation of the pandemic and the economic and social crisis that we are still experiencing," she says, noting that "taxes should be lowered for the poorest and raised for the richest." Débora García, spokesperson for Cs, agrees with her that this "was predictable news, the government acts in an electoral key." "After constant increases they remember 'the families and companies of the city'", she criticizes, and asks that "if they care so much, they reverse the increases they made years ago".