By NITZ ARANCON
A FORMER city legal officer yesterday submitted a position paper to Vice Mayor Raineir Joaquin Uy to oppose Councilor Ian Mark Nacaya’s proposal for city hall to collect fees for the rehabilitation and protection of the city’s watersheds through the Cagayan de Oro Water District (COWD).
Lawyer Mart Maandig formally opposed Nacaya’s proposal on behalf of a group of professionals.
Maandig furnished Nacaya a copy of the position paper.
Nacaya, chairman of the city council’s planning and development committee, is working on the proposed “Payment for Environmental Services Ordinance” that, if approved, would mean an additional 25-centavo charge for every cubic meter used by residential consumers and 50-centavos for commercial and industrial consumers.
Nacaya’s proposed ordinance is based on the recommendation of the Cagayan de Oro River Basin Development Council headed by Archbishop Antonio Ledesma.
Based on Nacaya’s proposal, the COWD would become city hall’s collection agent and the proposed environmental services fees would be included in the water bills.
Nacaya earlier said the environmental services fund would be used for the rehabilitation and protection of the watersheds, and reforestation.
Maandig submitted the position paper ahead of the 2 pm joint meeting of the city council’s committees on planning and development under Nacaya, finance under Councilor Edna Dahino, ways and means under Councilor George Goking, and environment under Councilor Zaldy Ocon.
Maandig said Nacaya’s proposal would be an additional burden imposed on the city’s water consumers.
He said Nacaya’s intention is noble but the fund should not be raised at the expense of consumers.
Instead, Maandig said city hall could opt to source the watershed fund from city hall’s general fund.
“Why not kuha-on nato diha sa general fund, one time lang? Kon mag-impose ka’g fee ug simbako ilang maaprobahan, this will be forever nga magbayad gayud kita nianang fee hangtud nga dili mausab kana nga ordinansa,” Maandig said.
He said the additional fees should not be imposed given that residents and businesses are already paying taxes to city hall.
He added: “Ako kontra gyud ko uban sa akong mga kaigsoonan nga mga professionals, businessmen, ug mga leaders sa mga barrio, sa additional burden. Mao gyud na among premise sa among opposition. While we recognize the power of the city government, through the Sangunian, to impose additional taxes and charges in order to achieve this purpose, pero untimely pa.”
Maandig said city hall can increase its revenues by further improving its collection efficiency.
“Ato diay nang koliktahon ang atong mga uncollected taxes ug atong gastohon sa pag-rehab sa watershed areas. Nganong mag-additional pa man gyud ta’g burden karong pahanona nga ang mga tawo, galisod na pag-ayo,” Maandig said.