by Rimaliza A. Opiña
City officials are starting the year right.
Despite the stand of some councilors that the 2017 budget should be higher to be at par with other highly urbanized cities, the city council approved the P1.77 billion budget.
The biggest allocation went to the General Services Office with a P264,978,000 budget. The GSO is the department in charge of procurement and solid waste disposal.
Other departments with over P100 million allocations are the City Engineer’s Office (P174,979,030) and the City Health Services Office (P150,332,070). The city also allotted P202M in developmental funds; P119.9M in non-office expenditures; and P77.3M for disaster risk reduction and management.
One of the conditions of the city council is for the executive branch to submit contracts it signed for their confirmation.
Mayor Mauricio Domogan thanked the city council for conducting marathon sessions to have the 2017 budget approved early. Previously, executive budgets get approved every February but projects could not be implemented immediately as budgets have to undergo review of the Department of Budget and Management.
Budget Officer Leticia Clemente said the budget is not merely a fund allocation but is necessary for the realization of the programs and projects of the city.
Some of the initiatives of the city government to save on operating costs are paperless transactions and outsourcing of personnel.
Earlier, the council decided to hold approval of the income component of the 2017 budget for adjustments in the estimates of projected income from the city’s other sources of revenue such as shares from the Baguio City Export Processing Zone.
The Local Finance Committee disagreed with this plan, saying bloating the projected income might result in an overdraft. Instead of increasing the projection, the LFC said collections that go above the projections may be allocated through a supplement budget.