In a historic first, the Chapala government is taking public opinion into account for setting priorities for spending the municipality’s 2019 tax and service revenues.
The process began last November with a series of public forums held in Chapala and each of its satellite towns. Participants were asked what public works and water service projects were most needed to improve living conditions in their respective communities.
The most frequently repeated needs now appear on ballots that are being provided to early-bird taxpayers, including foreign immigrants.
The vote on which public works are most essential is open to all property owners who pay the impuesto predial by the end of March. They will find ballots listing three to four options chosen for each locality at a table set up next to the cashier windows in the Chapala City Hall lobby. Most choices concern improving streets and roadways, handicapped friendly sidewalks, public spaces and street lighting.
The votes are tabulated on a daily basis, with the final results to be announced in April. Property Registry Director Héctor Veláquez Sánchez estimates his office will pull in 40 to 50 million pesos by then, with 15 percent of the total earmarked for works determined by public consensus.
The same calendar and mathematical formula applies to income accrued by Simapa, the agency in charge of administrating the municipality’s water and sewage services. The difference is that property owners pay fees and cast their ballots at Simapa offices located nearest to their home addresses. Voting choices refer to improvements for wells, water distribution systems and sewage infrastructure specific to the locality.
This new program, known as the Presupuesto Participativo (Participation Budget), has been implemented this year only in Jalisco municipalities such as Chapala that are currently governed by the Movimiento Ciudadano party. It applies exclusively to utilizing part of the tax income generated by the local government. At this time citizens are still excluded from registering opinions to determine how state and federal funding will be spent.