(San Juan, PR – December 11, 2018) – The Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (the “Oversight Board”) created by Congress under the bipartisan Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Act (“PROMESA”), approved today a request to increase the budget of the Puerto Rico Firefighters Bureau by $499,221 to cover the salary of 41 transitory firefighters.
Yesterday, the Oversight Board received the request from the Office and Management and Budget to reallocate payroll funds from the Puerto Rico Police Bureau to the Firefighters Bureau, both under the umbrella of the Department of Public Safety (DPS). The decision was made after having received a certification from DPS that the funds were indeed available within the Police Bureau payroll budget to cover salary expenses at the Firefighters Bureau. These salaries were previously funded for several years from Federal funds, not the General Fund of the Commonwealth, however that source of funding reportedly expires in mid-December 2018.
“Following several inquiries from our team, only yesterday did the Oversight Board receive a formal reapportionment request from the Office of Management and Budget to use funds from the Police Bureau to cover salary expenses for 41 transitory firefighters, even though the Department of Public Safety had apparently certified the availability of funds November 30,” said Natalie Jaresko, executive director of the Oversight Board. “Working within the parameters of the reapportionment review process, the Board conducted an expeditious review and approved the request based on the certification presented by DPS that personnel budgetary funds were available to fund the request. Given this, we understand no additional requests will be made to increase the Police Bureau’s personnel budget and hope the public debate will be informed by the DPS certification regarding personnel budget availability for the Police Bureau during Fiscal Year 2019,” added Jaresko.
On Friday, December 6, 2018, the Board sent a letter to the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, José Iván Marrero Rosado, reiterating its intent to work collaboratively with the administration to enable swift decision-making and implementation of the reapportionment review process. In the same letter, the Board announced it will publish this week all reapportionment requests and related correspondence on its website to increase transparency and understanding of the budget process. As of today, the Board awaits supporting information from the Government to process dozens of budget reapportionment requests.