BAGUIO CITY – Mayor Mauricio Domogan on Monday ruled out any more compromise with the lessees of the city-owned commercial lots saying they have benefitted from the low rental rates for close to 50 years and it is time for the city to find advantageous ventures.
The mayor said he will reject any appeal from the lot renters even if coursed through the city council and will stick to his ultimatum for them to remove their buildings and improvements from the city’s properties by Dec. 31 if they will fail to renew their contracts.
Records from the city treasury office under assistant city treasurer and in charge of office Alex Cabbarrubias showed that only about 30 percent of the lessees numbering over a hundred have renewed their contracts and paid the new rates while the rest have opposed the new conditions and are now appealing their case before the city council.
“If the council approves it, I will definitely veto it,” the mayor said.
Instead, he again urged the city council to consider the proposed amendments to the Tax Ordinance No. 2000-001 which seek to impose an average increase of ten percent on the antiquated business tax rates which include lot rentals on buildings constructed by these businessmen.
“We really should revisit our tax ordinance and update the rates to keep up with the times,” the mayor said.
The renters mostly occupants of lots located along Kayang and Hilltop roads refused to renew their contracts and expressed opposition to the city’s conditions that they begin paying the increased rental rate upon the date of the old contract’s expiration last January and that after the lapse of the 15-year lease extension, all constructions and improvements will be turned over to the city government.
The mayor expressed disappointment that the renters had the temerity to reject the terms despite the city’s relenting to their request for another term extension with increased but still minimal rates.
He said the rental rate increase of P6 per square meter per day is fair enough considering the present situation. For 47 years, the renters have been paying a measly 25 centavos per square per day which was later increased to P75.
He said even the Commission on Audit declared the contracts disadvantageous to the city and has recommended the cancellation of the agreements to allow new and advantageous deals.
“If they will continue to oppose it then we have no choice but to retake the property so we can draw a development plan and bid out these properties under beneficial terms,” he said.
He said based on the assessment of their earnings vis-à-vis the measly rental they were paying for the last 47 years, the city can safely say that these businessmen have “more than recovered their investments.”/Aileen P. Refuerzo#